Gender- and age-related prescription drug use patterns

Catherine M. Roe, Ann M. McNamara, Brenda R. Motheral

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

107 Scopus citations


Objective: To report the top 15 prescription drug categories used by males and females of all ages and to compare this information with national prevalence data. METHODS: Data used were pharmacy claim and eligibility information over the period January 1, 1999, through December 31, 1999, for 1 294 295 members of a large pharmacy benefit manager. Participant ages ranged from 1 to more than 100 years. Each participant was assigned to 1 of 9 age categories. Use of a drug category was defined as filling at least 1 prescription for a medication in that category during the study year. The percentage of males and females that used each drug group was established, and the 15 drug groups used most frequently were reported for each age category. RESULTS: Most gender differences in medication use appear after or around the puberty years. Women are more likely to use several classes of medications, including antidepressants and antianxiety and pain medications. Except for diuretics, men use cardiovascular medications at an earlier age than do women. The use of medications for chronic conditions increases with older age categories for both genders. The use of female hormones represents only a small proportion of the difference in medication use between genders. CONCLUSIONS: Analysis of data from the epidemiologic literature suggests that the gender differences in medication use shown in this study generally are to be expected.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-39
Number of pages10
JournalAnnals of Pharmacotherapy
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002


  • Drug utilization
  • Gender differences
  • Pharmacy claim database


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