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April 10, 2002

Trends in Medication Use in the United States

Author Affiliations

Stephen J.LurieMD, PhD, Senior EditorIndividualAuthor

JAMA. 2002;287(14):1804-1805. doi:10.1001/jama.287.14.1799

To the Editor: Dr Kaufman and colleagues1 examined trends in medication use in nonhospitalized US adults between 1998 and 1999. The large numbers of individuals (81%) taking at least 1 medication in any previous week was surprising, but Kaufman et al did not provide any explanation for this high percentage. One plausible reason may be increased direct-to-consumer (DTC) pharmaceutical advertising. Direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical spending increased by 41% from 1997 to 1998, when it reached more than $1.2 billion.2 It is also interesting that in 1998, 44% more was spent advertising to consumers than to physicians by top DTC pharmaceutical companies.2

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