For the past few decades, there has been considerable concern regarding the number of prescription drugs taken by the elderly population in he U.S. The number of drugs prescribed to those over 65 years of age has grown considerably in the past 25 plus years.
Almost 90 percent of seniors took at least one prescription drug in the past 30 days.
Almost 66.8 percent of seniors took three or more drugs in the past 30 days.
Almost 39.7 percent of seniors took five or more drugs in the past 30 days.
This same disturbing trend has been quietly affecting children as well. The percentage taking at least one prescription drug in the past 30 days grew more modestly from 20% to 24% but the percentage of children taking three of more drugs jumped up by more than 50% from 2.4% to 3.8%.
Of even greater concern is the drugs being given to children, particularly infants, in hospitals. A study in JAMA Pediatrics presents some sobering data. “On the first day of hospitalization, the median exposure of an infant patient in a children’s hospital was 4 distinct generic drugs and therapeutic agents, and this number dipped to 3 on hospital day two and rose to 4 by hospital days 3 through 30.”
The study concluded that “most patients hospitalized at tertiary care pediatric institutions receive at least 1 medication outside the terms of the Food and Drug Administration product license. Despite the frequent off-label use of drugs, we cannot determine which of these treatments are unsafe or ineffective and which treatments result in substantial benefit to the patient.”