Therapeutic Drug Use

Data are for the U.S.

Prescription drug use
  • Percent of persons using at least one prescription drug in the past 30 days: 48.6% (2015-2018)
  • Percent of persons using three or more prescription drugs in the past 30 days: 24% (2015-2018)
  • Percent of persons using five or more prescription drugs in the past 30 days: 12.8% (2015-2018)

Source: Health, United States, 2019, table 39 pdf icon[PDF – 9.8 MB]

Physician office visits
  • Number of drugs ordered or provided: 2.9 billion
  • Percent of visits involving drug therapy: 73.9%
  • Most frequently prescribed therapeutic classes:
    • Analgesics
    • Antihyperlipidemic agents
    • Dermatological agents

Source: National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey: 2016 National Summary Tables, tables 22, 24, 25 pdf icon[PDF – 793 KB]

Hospital emergency department visits
  • Number of drugs given or prescribed: 336 million
  • Percent of visits involving drug therapy: 79.5%
  • Most frequently prescribed therapeutic classes
    • Analgesics
    • Minerals and electrolytes
    • Antiemetic or antivertigo agents

Source: 2018 NHAMCS Public Use File

More Data

Page last reviewed: March 1, 2021