Mayo study sheds light on prescription drug use

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic say nearly 70 percent of Olmsted County residents are on at least one prescription medication and more than half, take two. The most commonly prescribed drugs are antibiotics, antidepressants and painkilling opiods according to research published online in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings.  

The year-long study was conducted in 2009 and involved about 90,ooo Olmsted County residents. Seventeen percent of the study participants were prescribed antibiotics and 13 percent took either antidepressants or painkillers. Blood pressure medication came in fourth with 11 percent. Twenty percent of the patients studied took five or more prescription medications.

The findings mirror national prescription drug trends, according to Dr. Walter Rocca who co-directs the Rochester Epidemiology Project, a collaboration between the Mayo Clinic, Olmsted Medical Center and several southeastern Minnesota counties.

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"If you look at the amount of people suffering from a specific disease, less traumatic situations like depression, it's a lot more common and bothers a lot more people in the community," Rocca said. "So, it gives you a different perspective of what's important and what's common."

The findings also show the number of prescriptions increased with a person's age and varied by gender, according to Rocca.

"In general, even at the same age, women tended to have more prescriptions than men and this has been suggested before but it was very clear in our study," he said.

The study showed the most commonly prescribed medications for young people are vaccines, antibiotics and anti-asthma drugs while antidepressants and opiods are most common for adults.

Since 1966, the Mayo Clinic has collected about 600,000 medical records in Olmsted County that have generated thousands of medical studies on a variety of conditions like heart disease and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

The Mayo Clinic offers video of Dr. Jennifer St. Sauver talking about the study.