In 1999, 51% of U.S. adults reported using any prescription drugs and 59% reporting use in 2012. That is a 16% increase. The prevalence of polypharmacy (>5 prescription drugs) increased from 9.2% in 1999 to 15% in 2012—a 64% increase. The prevalence of drug use increased in 11 drug classes included cholesterol-lowering agents, antidepressants, and prescription-proton pump inhibitors.
Comment: There are two major reasons we are experiencing an increase in prescription drug use. The first is direct-to-consumer advertising. These are the drug ads we all see on television and in print. We are only one of two countries that allow direct-to-consumer advertising. Studies have shown that the marketing of drugs to consumers results in more prescriptions and greater profits for Big Pharma. Direct-to-consumer advertising should be stopped.