Prescription medication use in older Americans: a national report card on prescribing. Family medicine Rathore, S. S., Mehta, S. S., Boyko, W. L., Schulman, K. A. 1998; 30 (10): 733-9


Due to their high prevalence of disease, older Americans receive more prescription medication than any other age group. We evaluated prescription medication use in patients age 50 or older; categorized and reported medication use by age group, drug class, and therapeutic class; and examined differences in prescribing patterns for older patients.All prescription medications reported in the 1995 National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, a nationally representative sample of ambulatory care visits in the United States for patients age 50 and older (n = 16,289), were evaluated in a cross-sectional analysis. We evaluated the number of prescription medications reported for each patient visit and ranked use of drug and therapeutic classes.Most patients seeing physicians (61%) had a prescription for at least one medication, ranging from a mean of 1.27 medications in patients ages 50-64 to 1.58 in patients over 85. Calcium channel blockers and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors were prescribed more than beta blockers in all patients. Data also indicated a significant decrease in estrogen/progestin and antidepressant medication use in older patients.Our findings indicate prescribing patterns inconsistent with national guidelines and decreased medication use, suggesting underprescription. Active intervention may be needed to improve the pharmacological treatment of older patients.

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