Prescriptions per Capita

Below is a graph representing prescriptions per capita reported by the Kaiser Foundation. (It reads that Kentucky uses 32 scripts per capita but what that number means is total number of refills per year; so, one prescription medication refilled every month would count as 12).1 Although this graph ends with 2016, the trend is still increasing annually.

Scripts per capita Kaiser Foundation

It is fitting that the FPP’s home is here in this region of the United States because the region leads the country in polypharmacy, and the US leads the world in polypharmacy.

Primary Care Providers and other providers have the daunting challenge of trying to manage high levels of medications for the overall wellness of their patients, within the confines of the 15-minute office visit.2,3 People’s medication burden increases with increasing disease burden, increasing products on the market both over the counter and prescription, and multiple physicians and providers caring for multiple diseases. Patients often have a primary care provider, plus multiple specialists, urgent care visits and hospitalizations which can all contribute to increased medication burden. The level of over the counter medications, supplements and products is at an unprecedented high level, with many products once considered prescription medications.


  1. Kaiser HJF. Henry J Kaiser Family Foundation State Health Facts 2018 found at,%22sort%22:%22asc%22%7D. Accessed July 3, 2018. 2018.
  2. Tai-Seale M, McGuire TG, Zhang W. Time allocation in primary care office visits. Health Serv Res. 2007;42(5):1871-1894.
  3. Tai-Seale M, McGuire T. Time is up: increasing shadow price of time in primary-care office visits. Health Econ. 2012;21(4):457-476.

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