Author(s): Kaufman DW, Kelly JP, Rosenberg L, Anderson TE, Mitchell AA
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Abstract CONTEXT: Data on the range of prescription and over-the-counter drug use in the United States are not available. OBJECTIVE: To provide recent population-based information on use of all medications, including prescription and over-the-counter drugs, vitamins and minerals, and herbal preparations/natural supplements in the United States. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: Ongoing telephone survey of a random sample of the noninstitutionalized US population in the 48 continental states and the District of Columbia; data analyzed here were collected from February 1998 through December 1999. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: Use of medications, by type, during the preceding week, compared by demographic characteristics. RESULTS: Among 2590 participants aged at least 18 years, 81\% used at least 1 medication in the preceding week; 50\% took at least 1 prescription drug; and 7\% took 5 or more. The highest overall prevalence of medication use was among women aged at least 65 years, of whom 12\% took at least 10 medications and 23\% took at least 5 prescription drugs. Herbals/supplements were taken by 14\% of the population. Among prescription drug users, 16\% also took an herbal/supplement; the rate of concurrent use was highest for fluoxetine users, at 22\%. Reasons for drug use varied widely, with hypertension and headache mentioned most often (9\% for each). Vitamins/minerals were frequently used for nonspecific reasons such as "health" (35\%); herbals/supplements were also most commonly used for "health" (16\%). CONCLUSIONS: In any given week, most US adults take at least 1 medication, and many take multiple agents. The substantial overlap between use of prescription medications and herbals/supplements raises concern about unintended interactions. Documentation of usage patterns can provide a basis for improving the safety of medication use.
This article was published in JAMA
and referenced in Journal of Gerontology & Geriatric Research