- A study conducted by researchers at Harvard University found that 59% of adults used at least one prescription drug during a 30-day period, up from 50% ten years ago.
- The study also showed that the percentage of people taking five or more medications per day was 15%, nearly double the percentage ten years ago.
- Experts suspect that the increased use of prescription drugs may be caused, at least in part, by rising levels of obesity.
According to the CDC, approximately 35% of Americans are obese, while 68.6% are overweight. This number has steadily increased in the last 50 years. At the same time, Americans are consuming record amounts of prescription drugs, with notable increase in the use of antidepressants and muscle relaxants. The lead researcher in Harvard's study, Elizabeth Kantor, MD, thinks that there is a link between increased rates of obesity and increased rates of prescription use.
This link is logical considering the role that oral anti-diabetic drugs play in helping overweight patients control type 2 diabetes. One major concern with this type of polypharmacy is the potential for drug-drug interactions.
It also has an impact on spending. According to IMS Health, between 2013 and 2014, spending on prescription medications increased by 10.3% to $374 billion in the U.S.