Objective: To describe trends in the prescription of menopausal estrogens and medroxyprogesterone in the United States.
Methods: Annual estimates of the number of prescriptions for menopausal estrogens and medroxyprogesterone and descriptive information on patients and providers were obtained from two pharmaceutical marketing research data bases, the National Prescription Audit and the National Disease and Therapeutic Index of IMS America.
Results: An estimated 13.6 million prescriptions were dispensed for oral menopausal estrogens in 1982, and 31.7 million in 1992, a 2.3-fold increase (P = .0001). In 1992, Premarin, the only oral conjugated estrogen currently approved for use, was the most frequently dispensed brand-name pharmaceutical in the United States. Dispensed prescriptions for Estraderm, a transdermal estradiol first marketed in 1986, increased from 1.5 million in 1987 to 4.7 million in 1992. Dispensed prescriptions for oral medroxyprogesterone also increased from 2.3 million prescriptions in 1982 to 11.3 million in 1992, a 4.9-fold increase (P = .0001). An estimated one in six to one in four postmenopausal women were taking menopausal hormones in 1992. These drugs were prescribed mainly by obstetrician-gynecologists.
Conclusion: The use of menopausal estrogens and medroxyprogesterone has increased substantially over the past decade. These trends indicate that American women are widely exposed to menopausal hormone replacement.