Prescription drug use reaches all-time high

Close to 60% of American adults take at least one prescription drug — the highest percent ever — according to a new study released Tuesday.

Researchers found that drug use in adults aged 20 and older rose from 51% in 2000 to 59% in 2012, with higher usage seen for almost every type of drug. In that same 12-year period, the amount of people who take five or more prescription drugs jumped from 8% to 15%.

The increased amount of adults who take prescription drugs can likely be linked to obesity, researchers noted. Eight out of the 10 most frequently prescribed drugs are used to treat hypertension, heart failure, diabetes and gastroesophageal reflux — all conditions associated with being overweight or obese.

Prescribing patterns could also vary due to outside factors, like new drugs, patent protections, recommendations from health officials and policy actions like Medicare Part D, researchers said.

The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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