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  • Dasha Kolyaskina

Kentucky Leads US in Per Capita Prescriptions Filled


The Kaiser Family Foundation's most recent summary of the total number of retail prescription drugs filled at pharmacies in the US in 2017 puts Kentucky in an unenviable position.

The states with the highest total number of prescriptions filled were, unsurprisingly, some of the states with the highest populations. California, Texas, and Florida appeared in the top five states for number of prescriptions filled among all payers – commercial, Medicare, Medicaid, and cash – as well as for the total number of prescriptions filled.

The greatest number of prescriptions were bought commercially – commercial payers made up roughly half of every state’s prescriptions filled. Medicare paid for more prescriptions than Medicaid in most states. Prescriptions paid for by cash represented the smallest proportion of prescriptions filled in most states – generally less than 10% of total prescriptions filled in a state.

When the total prescriptions filled are put into per capita terms, Kentucky and the eastern states emerge with the highest numbers of per capita prescriptions filled.

The eastern half of the United States saw significantly higher numbers of prescriptions filled per capita than the west in 2017. The average western state filled around ten prescriptions per person in 2017; the average eastern state filled closer to fourteen. Across all payers – the most concentrated numbers of prescriptions filled per capita were generally filled in states south of the Ohio River and east of Texas.

Kentucky filled the highest number of all prescriptions per capita (19.88) and the highest number of Medicaid prescriptions per capita (5.30) in the United States. Notably, Kentucky’s neighbor, West Virginia, follows Kentucky closely in many categories.

See the full breakdown of total and per capita prescriptions filled by category here.


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