This number that may astound you, as it did me. I knew a lot of us take prescription drugs, but until I started today’s blog, I had no idea that in 2011 we Americans spent $227,551,806,436 popping prescription pills from retail sales at pharmacies, according to Kaiser Family Foundation data. A report published last week and conducted by Mayo Clinic and Olmsted Medical Center about prescription drug use says spending reached $250 billion in 2009, the year studied.
We take drugs
That Mayo paper found that seven out of 10 of us takes a prescription drug, more than half of us take two and that 20 percent of us take at least five drugs. When I read about five or more, I think immediately about elders with multiple chronic conditions and prescription drug use to match.
Not surprisingly—perhaps even a “duh” factor—drug use in certain categories increases with age, the authors said.
I remember that keeping my mother’s pillbox in order prior to her death required organization and diligence—the latter to ensure that we followed doctors’ instructions, even when they sometimes conflicted as she saw multiple physicians. When she entered the hospital or left it, the problem compounded, when medications had changed due to a hospitalists’ instructions, leaving a high potential for error.
I used to wonder: “Are all of these medical professionals talking to each other, and do they have her complete medical history (which was five inches thick)?”
The answers were, in this order: “No” and “no.”
The drugs we take
We take, in this order:
3) pain-killing opioids
4) drugs to lower lipids
We women take more prescriptions than men, and we take more antidepressants. And about us boomer gals: Nearly one in four women ages 50-64 takes an antidepressant.
Here’s what I’m doing to try and postpone adding my drug statistics to the ever-growing pile. This is not medical advice, nor do I think it’s right for everyone. I work out almost daily, I try to eat right—more of a Mediterranean or plant-based diet, and take supplements under my doctor’s direction to lower my cholesterol. My lipids are now under control. Other supplements I take have different applications, like keeping my joints in good shape or my bones from developing osteoporosis. So far, so good. It’s not magic, but it’s the best I can do—besides buying winning stocks in big pharma.
Here’s a question for discussion: How much influence do you think the constant stream of drug advertising does to encourage this rise in prescription drug use?