CHICAGO — After years of decline, the number of prescription drugs used by Americans has begun to rise again as the nation's population grows older, according to a study by the Food and Drug Administration.
The study, detailed in Friday's Journal of the American Medical Assn., found that Americans spent about $17.5 billion on prescription drugs in 1982. Consumers paid $14.5 billion for prescription drugs at pharmacies, up 11.7% from the previous year, while hospitals spent $3 billion, a 19% increase.
Carlene Baum and fellow researchers from the FDA's National Center for Drugs and Biologics noted that drug use has increased from levels reported in the 1970s, when there was great concern about overprescribing medications and the safety of certain drugs.
The researchers found that the number of prescriptions for all major psychotherapeutic categories, except minor tranquilizers and barbiturate sedatives, began increasing in 1981 for the first time in eight years.