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Things you need to know about prescription drugs

Prescription medicines are used by over 131 million people, or 66% of all adults in the United States. Utilization is especially high among the elderly and those suffering from chronic illnesses. Prescription medications are expensive. In 1998, prescription medications cost $73 billion, or over 16 percent of total health-care costs. Prescription medications are an important part of any endeavor to maintain or improve one’s health. 

When used as prescribed by a doctor, prescription medicines can be helpful in treating many illnesses. Stimulants are helpful in managing attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. Central nervous system (CNS) depressants treat anxiety, panic, and sleep disorders. Opioids are prescribed to treat pain, coughing, and diarrhea. But when these medicines are misused, they can have serious consequences.

Prescription medications are essential for the treatment of numerous diseases and disorders. In addition, the price of prescription drugs is a problem for many consumers. Understanding the pricing of medications, potential strategies to save money, and support programs may be helpful. There are questions you may like to ask your health insurance plan, healthcare practitioner, or pharmacist in order to gain a better understanding of the industry.

Who uses prescription drugs?

The percentage of people who use prescription medications and the number of prescriptions filled differ by demographic category. Age, gender, color, ethnicity, income, and health status all have an impact on prescription drug use. Prescription drug use, for example, rises with age. Prescription medications are used by three-quarters of individuals aged 50 to 64, compared to 91 percent of those aged 80 and older. The average number of prescriptions filled rises with age, rising from 13 for those aged 50 to 64 to 22 for those aged 80 and older.

Prescription medications are used by the vast majority of persons who have one of five prevalent chronic conditions: diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, arthritis, or cancer.  

Effect of cost on prescription drug compliance

Because of the cost, some people take less medication than suggested. This is especially problematic for more vulnerable groups. For example, among individuals who report poor health, one-fourth (25%) of those aged 51 to 64 and more than one-tenth (12%) of those aged 65 and older say they have taken less medication than prescribed in the last two years due to cost. Significant proportions of people with common chronic diseases report taking less medicine than prescribed due to cost. Taking less medication than prescribed may raise overall health-care expenditures if it leads to additional emergency room visits, hospitalizations, or physician visits. Therefore, it is important to check various discount prescription drugs in order to save cost.

Prescription drug misuse

Prescription drug misuse includes taking a medication in a different manner or dose than prescribed; taking someone else’s prescription, even for a legitimate medical complaint such as pain; or taking a medication to feel euphoric (i.e., to get high). 

The misuse of prescription drugs can have major medical repercussions. Prescription drug misuse has increased over the last 15 years, as have emergency room visits, prescription drug overdose deaths, and treatment admissions for prescription drug use disorders, the most severe of which is addiction. Prescription opioid overdose deaths increased from 3,442 in 1999 to 17,029 in 2017. However, from 2017 to 2019, the number of deaths fell to 14,139. The number climbed to 16,416 between 2019 and 2020.

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