According to a new study published in JAMA Ophthalmology, Americans are using more than 30,000 new prescription drugs a year — a number that has grown by 40 percent in the last decade.
The latest findings come as the nation struggles with the opioid crisis.
The findings from the study, conducted by Johns Hopkins University and the University of Michigan, paint a picture of a country struggling with the prescription painkiller epidemic and the widespread use of these powerful drugs by those who need them most.
The opioid crisis, which has ravaged the United States since its peak in the early 2000s, has affected the healthcare system in many ways.
Patients are increasingly relying on more expensive and dangerous medications, which can result in serious side effects.
Drug-resistant strains of bacteria have also been found in hospitals, where people often can’t afford to buy the most expensive treatments.
In 2018, the number of new prescriptions for opioid analgesics, including opioids and sedatives, rose to 4.4 million from 3.7 million in 2017.
According to data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the use of opioids rose by nearly 50 percent between 2015 and 2020.
The number of prescriptions for sedatives jumped by nearly 20 percent to 4,000, with the use for opioids climbing by more than 40 percent.
The report found that more than 1.5 million people used opioids in 2018, including 6.1 million in the 12 weeks before Thanksgiving.
More than 1 million people took at least one prescription for oxycodone, the opioid that causes opioid addiction.
While opioids remain a significant part of the opioid painkiller market, many of the drugs now prescribed to treat opioid addiction are less effective and often cause more severe side effects, including respiratory depression and cardiac arrest.
The study found that, in 2018 alone, about 1.3 million people received a new prescription for an opioid, up from 1.1 percent in 2017, when the number was roughly 300,000.
A large majority of these prescriptions were for OxyContin, the drug that became the most widely prescribed opioid in the United, up nearly 50,000 from 2016.
The prescription for opioids is a major part of healthcare costs for patients, according to the study.
In 2018, Medicare, which covers more than 70 million Americans, paid an average of $8,000 for opioid prescriptions, a rise of more than $4,000 over last year.
Medicare and Medicaid paid an additional $8.5 billion in 2016 for opioid services, an increase of $1.4 billion over last years total.
The data from the JAMA study found there were about 6.3 billion opioid prescriptions in the US in 2020, representing about 18 percent of all prescription drug purchases.
The report also showed that prescriptions for Oxycontin rose by roughly 40 percent from 2016 to 2020.
Dr. Mihaela D’Angelo, a co-author of the study and a physician at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, said the report demonstrates that the opioid epidemic is not just about prescription drugs, but also about the way healthcare providers prescribe opioids.
“There is a growing body of research that shows there is a huge problem with opioids being abused, that they are not safe, and that they can cause serious side impacts,” D’angelo said.
The researchers said that their study is one of the first to examine the prescribing habits of doctors in the U.S. and around the world.
In addition to using data from Medicare, Medicaid and the Department of Veterans Affairs, the authors also analyzed data from pharmacy dispensed in Canada, which accounts for about 90 percent of prescription opioids in the country.
D’Angelo said that the results of the survey will be used by health systems and researchers in other countries to learn how to prevent the spread of antibiotic resistance and how to develop better and more effective medications.
“It will be a huge step in our understanding of what is going on in healthcare and medicine and also about how to improve the quality of healthcare and the effectiveness of healthcare,” she said.