Monday, December 4, 2023
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Lifetime prescription drug use – Healthcare Economist

This is the subject of an interesting paper Yu (2023).

Prescription drug use in the United States has reached an all-time high, a trend associated with increased medicalization, institutional factors related to the health care and pharmaceutical industries, an aging population, and an increasing burden of chronic disease. Although prescription drug use is high and rising, it is still not possible to estimate the total number of years Americans are expected to take prescription drugs during their lifetime. This study uses data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, the Human Mortality Database, and the National Center for Health Statistics 1996-2019 to provide the first estimates of life course patterns of prescription drug use. Newborns in 2019 are expected to need prescription drugs for approximately half their lives: 47.54 years for women and 36.84 years for men. The number of years an individual can expect to take five or more drugs increases substantially. The number of years Americans take statins, antihypertensive drugs, and antidepressants has also increased dramatically. There are also important differences in prescription drug use by race and ethnicity: Non-Hispanic whites take the most, Hispanics the least, and non-Hispanic blacks fall somewhere in between these two extremes. The wide and growing scope of drug use among Americans across the life course is a testament to the centrality of prescription drugs in American life today.

hat tip Kevin Lewis.

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