No Wonder Drug Coverage Is a Big Political Issue takes

If your medicine cabinet has more than five prescription medicines, it’s got lots of company. A survey finds 30 percent of U.S. adults have as many drugs in their inventory. Though higher among those age 65 and up (40 percent), the figure is sizable among under-65s (28 percent). Conducted for The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, the Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard School of Public Health, the study found 54 percent of adults take prescription drugs on a regular basis, including 82 percent of the 65-and-overs and 49 percent of the under-65s. The elders are more likely than the younger cohort to take three or more drugs regularly (55 percent to 17 percent), but less likely to have insurance coverage for their prescriptions (23 percent versus 38 percent). Worries about cost help push consumers toward generics rather than brand-name drugs. As you can see from the chart, few people regard generics as inferior. In filling prescriptions, 54 percent “usually” go generic; 27 percent usually get a brand name. Ads play a secondary role in informing people about prescription drugs. Better than 9 in 10 trust their doctors and pharmacists “a lot” or “somewhat” for accurate information about prescription drugs; 48 percent have such trust in drug ads. Thirty-four percent have talked to their doctors after seeing an ad; 7 percent have asked a doctor to prescribe a drug they’ve seen advertised. In a finding sure to alarm doctors and drug companies alike, 61 percent said they trust family and friends for accurate information about medicines. Indeed, 22 percent “very often” or “somewhat often” get advice from friends or family about which drugs to take.