Top 10 Prescribed Drugs in the U.S.

Top 10 Prescribed Drugs in the U.S.

Our medicine cabinets provide an interesting peek at our country’s health, and it appears that we as a country are an aching, aging, obese community. Ten of the most prescribed drugs in 2010 were released in a new report by the IMS Institute of Healthcare informatics.

The use of medication is an important topic for all stakeholders in the U.S. healthcare system. The IMS report found that the medications consumed grew at very low volumes (comparatively and historically), and even declined when it came to injectable or infusible medication. Approximately 78% of the nearly 4 billion U.S. prescriptions written in 2010 were for generic drugs.

According to the report, the 10 most-prescribed drugs in the U.S. are:

1. hydrocodone/acetaminophen – 131.2 million Rx
2. simvastatin (Zocor), a cholesterol-lowering statin drug – 94.1 million Rx
3. lisinopril (Prinivil and Zestril), a blood pressure drug – 87.4 million Rx
4. levothyroxine sodium (Synthroid), synthetic thyroid hormone – 70.5 million Rx
5. amlodipine besylate (Norvasc), an angina/blood pressure drug – 57.2 million Rx
6. omeprazole (Prilosec), an antacid drug – 53.4 million Rx
7. azithromycin (Z-Pak and Zithromax), an antibiotic – 52.6 million Rx
8. amoxicillin, an antibiotic – 52.3 million Rx
9. metformin (Glucophage), a diabetes drug – 48.3 million Rx
10. hydrochlorothiazide, a water pill for blood pressure – 47.8 million Rx.

Americans spent $307 billion on prescription drugs in 2010, according to IMS. These drugs included:

Lipitor, a cholesterol-lowering statin drug – $7.2 billion

Nexium, an antacid drug – $6.3 billion

Plavix, a blood thinner – $6.1 billion

Advair Diskus, an asthma inhaler – $4.7 billion

Abilify, an antipsychotic drug – $4.6 billion

Seroquel, an antipsychotic drug – $4.4 billion

Singulair, an oral asthma drug – $4.1 billion

Crestor, a cholesterol-lowering statin drug – $3.8 billion

Actos, a diabetes drug – $3.5 billion

Epogen, an injectable anemia drug – $3.3 billion

Source: IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics: “The Use of Medicines in the United States: Review of 2010,” April 2011.


  1. shocked that good old albuterol doesn’t make the list. In my LTC facilities its used for everything from PNA to foot fungus

  2. I am currently in a Pharmacy Technician Course and we are studying the top selling drugs. This article is very useful and interesting and will help me in memorizing generic and brand name drugs as well as the sub-categories. It is also very intriguing to know the top 10 most prescribed drugs.

    Thank you, Amy


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