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Do US Adults Use More Prescription Drugs Than Canadians?

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Prescription drug use appears to be similar in the US and Canada, according to a new data brief from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The report used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and the Canadian Health Measures Survey to examine trends in prescription drug use in the past 30 days. “Patterns of prescription drug use may reflect underlying patterns of health conditions and healthcare access in the population,” the study authors explained. 

Results showed that in the US, 69% of patients aged 40 to 79 years reported using 1 or more prescription drugs in the past 30 days, while 22.4% reported use of 5 or more prescription drugs. Among patients 40 to 59 years old, the 5 most commonly used drug types were antidepressants, lipid-lowering drugs, angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, analgesics, and antidiabetic agents. In older patients (60 to 79 years old), lipid-lowering drugs, antidiabetic agents, beta blockers, ACE inhibitors, and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) ranked at the top. 

In Canada, 65.5% of patients aged 40 to 79 reported using 1 or more prescription drugs in the past 30 days, while 18.8% stated use of 5 or more. The most commonly used agents in patients 40 to 59 years old were analgesics, antidepressants, lipid-lowering drugs, PPIs, and antidiabetic drugs, while in the 60 to 79 year age group, lipid-lowering drugs, analgesics, PPIs, ACE inhibitors, and antidiabetic agents were found to be the most commonly used types. 

In both countries, the use of 5 or more prescriptions was found to be similar among women and men, however the use of 1 or more prescription drugs was higher in women. As would be expected, prescription drug use in older groups was observed to be greater than in younger groups in both the US and Canada.  

“The use of 1 or more and 5 or more medications among adults aged 40 to 79 is similar between the United States and Canada, despite substantial differences in their healthcare systems,” the authors concluded.

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Schedule2 Oct 2023