Top 10 Most Medicated States: West Virginia, Alabama Lead Pack

December 3, 2009

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Analytics, Automated & MarTech | Pharma & Healthcare | Retail & E-Commerce

West Virginia, Alabama and South Carolina top the list of America’s most medicated states, boasting the highest numbers of yearly retail prescriptions filled per person, according to a recent ranking by

Each adult resident of West Virginia fills an average of 17.7 retail prescriptions each year, Forbes noted. This compares with the national average of just 11.5 prescriptions.? West Virginians also have higher rates of heart-disease death: 237 per 100,000 compared with a national average of 200. Their health isn’t great on other fronts either. More than one-fourth smoke, and 12% have diabetes – nearly 4% more than the average US incidence of diabetes.


All of the states on the most medicated list also have higher rates of adult obesity than the US average of 63%. For example, 69% of West Virginians are obese or overweight, as are 68% of Alabama residents and 65% of South Carolinians, according to the CDC.

West Virginians Tiredest Too

An earlier ranking of states by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also put West Virginia at the top of the list as the state in which residents report being least rested.? That analysis found that nearly 20% of West Virginians reported never getting enough sleep during the past month. Tennessee (14.8%) and Kentucky (14.4%) ranked #2 and #3 on that list.

Prescriptions Rack Up Sales

In 2008, total sales for retail prescription medications (excluding mail order) reached $291.5 billion, a 1.4% increase from the previous year, Forbes reported. The cholestorol-lowering statin Lipitor was the top-selling drug, followed by the acid reflux medication Nexium, and Plavix, an anti-platelet agent that reduces the risk of heart attack or stroke.

Drugs to treat cardiovascular and gastroenterological conditional, as well as ones that regulate central nervous system conditions such? as seizures, depression, pain and Alzheimer’s Disease, accounted for half of all drug sales in 2008, Forbes said.

Recent studies by ORC Guideline found that nearly half of Americans tune out prescription-drug risk information in print or TV ads, and also point to an education gap in the extent to which consumers understand interactions associated with their medications.

About the ranking: To compile its list of most medicated states, used information from, The Kaiser Family Foundation; Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System and the CDC.

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