Thomas Frey’s blog ›

Our Alarming Culture of Pill People and Future Trends in Healthcare

Posted on February 15, 2013

How many pills do you take on a daily basis?

According to a 2010 study by Colorado State University, about 68% of American adults take multivitamin supplements. At the same time the average American fills 12 prescriptions a year.

After spending the past few days with my aging parents in an assisted living center in Arizona, daily meds and supplements have become a critical issue for them to deal with.

Yes, every person is different and their daily “pill cocktail” will vary, but the notion that virtually every problem has a “pill solution” is still very much alive and well in today’s culture.

On one end of the spectrum is my colleague and fellow futurist, Ray Kurzweil who takes upwards of 250 vitamins a day, and on the other end are those who don’t take any.

To be sure, future generations will refer to us as the “pill people” because of our addiction to the quick fix. But as with all cultural memes, they have a beginning, middle, and end. Sometime in the near future, pill taking will peak and other types of cures, therapies, and self-healing techniques will begin to replace our need for pills.

The average American today takes slightly over 10 pills a day. By 2050, that number may very well be zero. If that’s the case, what will be the next big thing destined to capture the money we spend today on pills? Here are a few thoughts.

Understanding Today’s Pill Culture

Projections show that Americans today spend over $270 billion on prescription drugs vs. slightly over $34 billion for non-prescription alternatives and vitamins.

Although senior citizens comprise 13% of the total population in the United States, they account for over 30% of the prescriptions, and over 40% of all the money spent on drug. According to a study by the Institute for Families USA, the average number of prescriptions per year/per senior citizen grew from 19.6 in 1992 to 28.5 in 2000. Projections show the average number of prescriptions per elderly person will grow to 41.5 in 2013.

Naturally, having too many prescriptions causes a myriad of problems.

Read more: Our Alarming Culture of Pill People and Future Trends in Healthcare | World Future Society.

Home           Top of page