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Prescription Drug Use Among Midlife and Older Americans

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Prescription drug use is a major issue in the United States. The availability of prescription drugs, re-importation from foreign countries, cost, safety, and effectiveness have captured the attention of the media and the American public. The purpose of this study was to look at the use of prescription drugs in the United States among those age 50 and older.

Most Americans age 50+ report using medicines wisely. However, there appears to be a disconnection between what older Americans say and do with regard to drug effectiveness. Although majorities say it is important to them to have consumer-friendly research on the relative effectiveness, safety and cost of pharmaceuticals, few say they discuss different prescription drugs (other than generics) for treating their condition when their doctor prescribes one. Among the minority (33 percent) to report talking with their doctor about different prescription drugs to treat their condition, most say their doctor raised the issue.


Telephone interviews were conducted by Roper Public Affairs, part of NOP World, among a nationally representative sample of 1,001 age 50+ Americans in the continental United States between October 7th and 18th, 2004. Random digit dial (RDD) sampling was used to ensure the survey is representative of the targeted population. Dr. Barrett, the report's author, may be contacted at 202-434-6197 for additional information. (32 pages)

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