7 in 10 people take prescription drugs

Washington: Almost 70 percent of US citizens take at least one prescription drug, and more than 50 percent take two, according to researchers.

The study found that antibiotics, antidepressants and painkilling opioids are most commonly prescribed.

According to the findings, twenty percent patients are on five or more prescription medications.

Study author Jennifer St. Sauver, Ph.D., a member of the Mayo Clinic Population Health Program in the Mayo Clinic Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery, said that often when people talk about health conditions they talk about chronic conditions like heart disease or diabetes.

She said that however, the second most common prescription was for antidepressants and the third most common drugs were opioids.

Seventeen percent of those studied were prescribed antibiotics, 13 percent were taking antidepressants and 13 percent were on opioids.

Drugs to lower lipids, such as cholesterol, came in fourth (11 percent) and vaccines were fifth (11 percent). Drugs were prescribed to both men and women across all age groups, except high blood pressure drugs, which were seldom used before age 30.

Overall, women and older adults receive more prescriptions. Vaccines, antibiotics and anti-asthma drugs are most commonly prescribed in people younger than 19. Antidepressants and opioids are most common among young and middle-aged adults.

Cardiovascular drugs are most commonly prescribed in older adults. Women receive more prescriptions than men across several drug groups, especially antidepressants: Nearly 1 in 4 women ages 50-64 are on an antidepressant.

St. Sauver added that as a person gets older they tend to get more prescriptions, and women tend to get more prescriptions than men.

The study has been published online in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings.