Antibiotics, antidepressants and painkillers are the most commonly prescribed drugs-which suggests that depression, and not diabetes or heart disease, is the most widespread chronic condition.
According to a study by researchers from the Mayo Clinic, 17 per cent of Americans are taking an antibiotic, and 13 per cent are on an antidepressant or painkiller. Eleven per cent are taking an antihypertensive for controlling blood pressure.
Greater drug use is found among women and older adults. Nearly one in four women aged between 50 and 64 is on an antidepressant.
Around $250 bn a year is spent on prescription drugs in the US, which represents 12 per cent of the expenditure on personal healthcare products.
(Source: Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 2013; doi: 10.1016/j.mayocp.2013.04.021).