Objectives: Our objective was to compare sex and age differences in the medications dispensed in pharmacies from a large national drugstore chain. Methods: Using a list for the 200 most commonly prescribed medicines, we assessed prescriptions dispensed by a large national chain drug store over 1 year (2002-2003). The analysis used U.S. census data adjusted for the population by sex and age and weighted by the number of pharmacies per state. Results are reported as an odds ratio (OR) of prescriptions dispensed to females and males. Results: Under age 18, 24 drug classes were dispensed more commonly to females (OR > 1) and 18 drug classes more commonly to males (OR < 1). In the 18-24 age group, 48 of 53 drug classes were dispensed more frequently to females. Across other adult groups, females were dispensed more medications than males for 156 of 180 medications. There was greater dispensing to females of antibiotics (OR = 1.74, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.74-1.74), analgesics (OR = 1.70, 95% CI 1.70-1.70), antihistamines and sympathomimetics (OR = 1.46, 95% CI 1.45-1.46), benzodiazapines (OR = 2.08, 95% CI 2.07-2.08), antidepressants (OR = 2.40, 95% CI 2.39-2.40), diuretics (OR = 1.9328, 95% CI 1.93-1.94), and thyroid drugs (OR = 4.80, 95% CI 4.78-4.82). However, males had higher dispensing of antianginal drugs (OR = 0.84, 95% CI 0.83-0.85), anticoagulants (OR = 0.89, 95% CI 0.88-0.90), glycosides (OR = 0.80, 95% CI 0.79-0.81), and antihypertensives (OR = 0.91, 95% CI 0.91-0.91). More females were dispensed propoxyphene with acetaminophen (OR = 2.23, 95% CI 2.23-2.24), which has been associated with adverse outcomes (hospitalizations, emergency department visits, and deaths). Conclusions: Females, especially during the reproductive years, are dispensed more medications than males.
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