What percentage of Americans are taking medicine today?

I was chatting with Birdgirl and a roommate last night when they simultaneously popped a birth control pill and took a puff off the inhaler. I myself don’t take any medicine daily, so I always notice when anyone does even though, obviously, for them, it’s just routine.

My question: What percentage of Americans take medicine every day? I figure with the aforementioned birth control & inhalers we’re already covering a sizeable minority of the population, but I’m purely speculating. Any ideas?

I’d imagine you’d have to better define your terms a bit first before you can get a definitive answer. Do you mean prescription medications, or are you including OTC things (I take ibuprofen every day - does that count)? How about vitamins and other supplements?

I was worried I wasn’t being specific enough. I’m more curious about perscribed meds but tangentially curious about how many folks take anything including OTCs. Let’s stick with the former for now though.

Good point NinjaChick.

Just curious, how old are you?

A not-that-spry 25.

This is a good question. I’m 45 and have never been on prescription drugs, other than a few rounds of antibiotics. I’m shocked at the prevalence of the afore-mentioned inhalers among young kids today. Go to youth soccer tournament and watch how many kids are taking puffs at halftime. It’s break out the orange wedges and the inhalers.

Birth control pills are kind of a special case, but they are prescribed medications…

P.S. Like your band, Birdmonster. Reminds me a little of the Replacements, back when I was your age.

To clarify: I’m hoping to get a percentage of the population that does in fact take prescribed meds. I realize those numbers might not exist, but, hey, that’s what the SDMB is for.

And thanks Lamer. I’ve always liked the Replacements. Especially the “Tim” album. And, of course, “Alex Chilton.”

Apparently, I repay compliments with insults. Should read “Lamar,” of course.


According to the American Heart Association: 49% (I think that’s from 1999, but it doesn’t specify).

That seems to line up with this un-sourced statement in the first paragraph.

Again, though, there’s dozens of issues complicating getting a straight answer. Some people are on ten different meds. No doubt a large chunk of the prescriptions written are for refills. Many written prescriptions written go unfilled for any number of reasons.

I’d spend more time on this if I had the time - I think it’s an interesting question, but I’m rather busy packing as I’m moving back to school on Friday.