By Briana Vannozzi
Half of all Americans are taking one or more prescription medications. And New Jerseyans are no different. On a list of the most prescribed drugs in the state, a few make repeat appearances under different brand names.
Medications for high cholesterol and blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and mental illnesses topped out as the most commonly prescribed.
When asked if these medications seem consistent with what she prescribes and the type of patients she treats, Dr. Meika Roberson said, “They’re completely consistent. I’d say we treat mostly high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, diabetes, very common and a lot of these have underlying psych disorders.”
The chief medical officer for Care Point Health at Hoboken University Medical Center says while lifestyle is certainly a factor, it’s not completely to blame.
“There’s a lot of hereditary factors that we do not have control over,” Roberson said.
According to the American Diabetes Association, in 2010 just under 600,000 adults, or 8.3 percent of New Jersey’s adult population, had diagnosed diabetes. Their data shows that if current trends continue, one in three U.S. adults could have diabetes by 2050.
And Dr. Roberson adds that many diseases are linked.
“If you have hypertension, high cholesterol they often go hand in hand unfortunately,” she said.
According to IMS, the Institute for Medical Informatics, nationwide, Americans spent $325 billion on prescription medications in 2012. That’s the last year for which information is available. And that number is lower than previous years.
“My take is the prescribing of these drugs is consistently becoming higher as the population grows and you’re going to see a lot of increase. And at least from my perspective, an increase in prescribing of these drugs,” said Nilesh Desai, director of pharmacy for Hackensack University Medical Center.
“Mmental illness is common not unlike the other medical conditions that are represented on the list,” said Debra E. Koss of the New Jersey Psychiatric Association.
Koss represents the New Jersey Psychiatric Association. The Garden State, she says, seems to be on par with the rest of the nation.
“We understand that mental illness is a biologically based condition and one in four adults experience mental illness in any given year,” she said. “I don’t know that we could draw any conclusions from this data as to lifestyle.”
There is, however, one theme, though not new, echoed among all the medical experts we spoke with, a push for more exercise, healthier eating habits and less stress. They say until we do this, it’s unlikely prescription drug use will have any significant drop.