Americans Prescription Drug Use on the Rise

Fifty-five percent of Americans regularly take a prescription medicine, and those who take a prescription use four on average, according to a survey from Consumer Reports. Fifty-three percent of respondents noted they receive prescriptions from more than one healthcare provider, and more than a third said no single provider reviewed their medicines to determine if the combinations are safe or necessary.

The number of prescriptions filled for American adults and children rose 85 percent between 1997 and 2016, from 2.4 billion to 4.5 billion a year, according to the health research firm Quintile IMS. During that time, the U.S. population rose 21 percent. In 2014, nearly 1.3 million people sought emergency room treatment for adverse drug effects, and about 124,000 people died, according to U.S. government data cited by Consumer Reports.