This week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data on prescription-drug use through 2008. According to the data, almost half of Americans -- 48.3% -- took at least one prescription drug per month in 2008, up from 43.5% a decade ago.

"As new drugs are introduced and new uses for old drugs are found, more patients can have improved health and quality of life with the appropriate use of prescription drugs," the CDC said in its report. But the agency said there are some concerns, noting "current prescription drug use patterns need to be better understood."

Specifically, almost 40% of older Americans (over 60-years old) used five or more prescription drugs in the past month. While this could simply be due to age, the CDC said there is a concern that it may reflect excessive prescribing, which is "a continuing challenge that may contribute to adverse drug events, medication compliance issues, and increased health care costs."

Of course, all of that pill popping has turned into a lucrative business for drug makers. Prescription drug spending more than doubled between 1999 and 2008 to $234.1 billion, according to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. In 2008, however, prescription drug spending growth decelerated from the year before as a result of the recession, fewer new drugs and safety concerns. Despite this spending slowdown, drug prices increased 2.5% in 2008.

Prescription drug use is supposed to have picked back up in 2009, with estimates that spending reached as high as $246.3 billion thanks to the increased use of antiviral drugs and price hikes in brand-name prescription drugs. That growth is expected to continue as a number of uninsured Americans gain coverage through the health care reform bill.

Some key findings of the survey released by the CDC include:

  • The use of two or more prescription drugs per month increased by 20% and the use of five or more drugs increased by 70%.
  • 1 out of every 5 children compared to 9 out of 10 older Americans (over 60 years old) reported using at least one prescription drug in the past month.
  • Among children younger than 11-years old, the most commonly used types of drugs included penicillin, asthma and allergy treatments. Among adolescents, antidepressants, attention deficit disorder, asthma and allergies medicines were most used. Among adults aged 20-59, most common medications were for cholesterol lowering, pain relief and antidepressants. Among older Americans, high blood pressure, heart disease and but cholesterol lowering drugs were commonly used.
  • Women were more likely to use prescription drugs than men.
  • The non-Hispanic white population had the highest prescription drug use and the Mexican-American population had the lowest.

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103 Comments

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Jan

I reached the "donut hole" in August. One of my meds raised the prices to over $500 for a 90 day supply and another one raised the price to over $300 for a 90 day supply. I cannot afford to reorder these two meds, and, where is my $250 our wonderful president promised to send me????????

September 23 2010 at 10:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
carmiec

Americans may seem to use more prescription drugs than people of other countries, but, this may only be true because antibiotics and other drugs that require a prescription in the US can be bought over the counter in many other parts of the world. I am just saying....

September 16 2010 at 1:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ftep

-So..........buy drug company stock!

September 06 2010 at 10:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ablantons

I can see smokin a joint but some of you ppl, yea, i said it, you ppl, dope is all they think about. Beautiful young ladies giving their bodies away for pills or crack or whatever. Ppl just throwing their lives away to get high. Dope is for ppl who can't handle reality, or is it, reality is for ppl who can't handle dope.

September 05 2010 at 2:20 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
phil

At last! Comments can be made without a complicated entry? Phil

September 05 2010 at 8:17 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Julia

I'm sure it is true that more women take prescription drugs, because more Drs. try to prescribe them! I have had to say no to drug prescriptions to a number of Drs. We know our own bodies better than anyone else, but Drs. tend to think that women, especially over 50, are unaware, and that the Drs. know best. JUST SAY NO, AND DON'T LET THEM INTIMIDATE YOU! I would venture to say that close to half the people on blood pressure medications don't need them, but have what is known as the "white coat symdrome", and their pressure rises when they visit. Buy your own blood pressure cuff and see for yourself what your pressure is normally!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

September 04 2010 at 11:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Barry

legalized drug pushers

September 04 2010 at 8:29 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
hairhofla

48% of America and 100% of American Teatards.....Instead of protesting Manhattan Mosques and gay marriage...why not protest pharmaceuticals and their pill pushers? Because you're so strung out on pills your brians has been lobotomized

September 04 2010 at 7:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to hairhofla's comment
housofrisingsun

My spine is disinergating along with the discs. All my nerves are damaged thanks to the fed gov. and agent orange in Nam. All my joints give me pain alsong with myp musules and tendons. That is just the beginning, all my very serious pain was a result of the Army and Police force. All this because i wanted to protect my country for the freedom it gives me. I would not change anything. the pain on a scale of 1 to 10 with taking the pills is around 5 or 6, I am never pain free. I am thankful that because of the pills I have somewhat a quality to life. Without them I would take my life, it would be too much to handle. I don't care if the companies make a profit...at least I got somewhat of a life. SO BACK OFF ON THE PILL COMPANIES !

September 04 2010 at 8:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
johnria

With all the commercials on TV to scare the heck out of even healthy people it is no wonder this country is being drugged to death. Pharmaceuticals are legal drug dealers. Corporate profit is their only objective and a lot of doctors are complisit. The free vacation in some exotic location is the award.

September 04 2010 at 7:14 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
berevealer

FACT: Americans are overmedicated!! Americans expect medication for the most minor of illness or injury when a doctor is not necessary at all. It is no wonder health insurance is so high because demand is so high. Another thing is the USA has a violent society and an illicit drug demand which adds to health care costs. Overeating and what you eat is also a big problem that is self inflicted. Summary: Americans bring their problems upon themselves for the most part.

September 04 2010 at 7:07 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply