US Pharm. 2013;38(9):6.

CDC data indicate that, compared with 2010, fewer women in 2011 utilized prescription drugs because of cost. Of 15 prescription drug classes, three (analgesics, sex hormones [SHs], and calcium channel blockers [CCBs]) were used by fewer women in 2010 than in 2002. SHs for hot flashes, menopause, and contraception evidenced a drastic drop (from 15.2% in 2002 to 8.9% in 2010). The number of women receiving prescription analgesics for pain relief rose by 26% from 1994 to 2002 (from 9% to 11.3%), but dropped by 9.7% between 2002 and 2010 (from 11.3% to 10.2%).

Drugs for Depression and Anxiety: In 2010, antidepressants were the most frequently prescribed agents (11.9%) for women. Between 1994 and 2002, the annual rate of increase was 33%, versus a rate of 5.4% between 2002 and 2010. In 2010, 5.7% of women were prescribed anxiolytics, sedatives, and hypnotics to treat generalized anxiety and related disorders. From 1994 to 2002, the proportion of women prescribed these drugs increased by 11% (from 3.6% to 4%), but from 2002 to 2010, the increase was 42.5%.

Drugs for Heart Disease: The agents second most frequently prescribed to women in 2010 were antihyperlipidemics. However, the increase per year declined from 2002 to 2010 (from 27.8% to 12.5%), and in 2010, antihyperlipidemics were used by 11.6% of women. Among the different prescription drug classes used to treat hypertension and heart disease, beta-adrenergic blockers were used by 7.6% of women, followed by diuretics (6.2%, including treatment of kidney disease), ACE inhibitors (5.8%), and antihypertensive combinations (5.2%); CCBs were used the least (4%).

Drugs for Diabetes and for Hypothyroidism: Antidiabetic agents had a constant rate of increase between 1994 and 2010 (6% annually). In 2010, 5.7% of women used at least one antidiabetic agent. In 2010, 8.2% of women used thyroid hormones for hypothyroidism at least once in 30 days, versus 6.2% and 3.7% of women in 2002 and 1994, respectively.

Drugs for Gastrointestinal Disorders and for Asthma: Women with gastric reflux and ulcers increased their use of proton pump inhibitors and H2 antagonists from 5.9% in 2002 to 9.4% in 2010, although the rate of increase was slower than between 1994 and 2002 (3%). In 2010, 5.6% of women with asthma or breathing difficulties used bronchodilators (47.4% higher usage rate than in 2002).

Drugs for Epilepsy and Seizures: The use of anticonvulsants for epilepsy, seizure, and related disorders increased 9.1% annually between 1994 and 2010. In 2010, 4.6% of women used anticonvulsants.

To comment on this article, contact