Total drug prescriptions dispensed in the U.S. 2009-2018

The number of prescriptions dispensed in the U.S. has increased between 2009 and 2018. In 2009 the number of prescriptions dispensed was near 3.95 billion, while in 2018 the number of prescriptions dispensed was around 4.21 billion. The increase in the number of prescriptions dispensed has a multifactorial origin that includes health care sources, health insurance and prescription drug benefits. However, the increase in prescription drug usage comes with a price tag as the price of drugs in the U.S. is also on the rise.

Medication usage

The total number of retail prescriptions filed annually in the United States is expected to also rise significantly by the year 2024. Medication usage varies depending on the population, for example, some data shows that prescription usage increases with age. Likewise, gender has an influence on prescription drug use. Females have a higher rate of prescription drug usage.

Prescription drug costs

The U.S. has some of the highest per capita drug spending in the world. That is largely because the prices of drugs in the U.S. are based solely on what the market can bare, rather than what the actual costs of production are. Personal health care expenditures in the U.S. have more than doubled since 2000. Estimates suggest that the cost of drugs will continue to increase. Estimated U.S. prescribed drug expenditures will likely amount to over 360 billion U.S. dollars by the end of 2019.

Total number of medical prescriptions dispensed in the U.S. from 2009 to 2018

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Release date

May 2019


United States

Survey time period

2009 to 2018

Supplementary notes

Includes prescriptions and insulins dispensed through chain and independent pharmacies, food store pharmacies, mail service pharmacies, and long-term care facilities. Excludes OTC. QuintilesIMS routinely updates its national audits, which may result in changes to previously reported market size and growth rates. Prescriptions are not adjusted for length of therapy; 90-day and 30-day prescriptions are both counted as one prescription.
The statistic was assembled from several IQVIA (IMS Health/QuintilesIMS) reports.

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