Wow. There’s still money in selling the fountain of youth.
Today, polypharmacy refers to people taking five or more prescription drugs. And, according to a paper Tuesday in JAMA, the number of Americans on such regimens has nearly doubled over a decade to 15% of adults.
Instead of snakes, the modern culprits more likely are societal conditions such as aging and obesity and possibly nonmedical factors such as increased Medicare coverage and the ever-present direct-to-consumer television ads.
Instead of flowers and honey, today’s most popular or fastest growing drugs include cholesterol-lowering statins, antidepressants and drugs to control diabetes, acid indigestion and high blood pressure.
The JAMA paper also found that, in addition to the growing ranks of polypharmacy patients, the number of adults taking at least one prescription drug grew from 51% of the population in the years 1999-2000 to 59% in 2011-2012, the most recent year data was available.
“The population has aged,” said lead author Elizabeth Kantor, an epidemiologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. “Older people tend to take more drugs.”
So do heavier people. Several of the drugs that saw increasing use were for conditions linked to obesity.