What Are the Top Prescribed Prescription Drugs in the U.S.?
Last year, more than $500 billion was spent on prescription drugs within the U.S. There are various drugs prescribed every year, each with its treatment for a specific medical condition. However, out of all the medications prescribed each year, the top 10 include Atorvastatin, Albuterol, Omeprazole, Lisinopril, Levothyroxine, Metformin, Amlodipine, Metoprolol, Gabapentin, and Losartan.
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The Top Prescribed Prescription Drugs in the U.S.
Below we go through the most popular prescription drugs along with what they treat, their average cost, the brand name and generic names, potential side effects, and more.
|Prescribed Prescription Drug||Average Retail Price per Refill|
Total Amount of Prescriptions Placed
Additionally, below is a table with the prescribed medications that will be detailed and the total number of times each is prescribed. The most popular drug, Atorvastatin, has been prescribed about 112,474,023 times.
|Prescribed Prescription Drug||Total Amount of Prescriptions Placed|
Atorvastatin, its brand name being Lipitor, is a medication used to combat high cholesterol. It falls into a class of medications known as statins, which work by slowly decreasing cholesterol production in the body. Your doctor may prescribe this medication if you cannot lower your cholesterol naturally through exercising or eating a low-fat diet. With atorvastatin, individuals will be at a lower risk of heart attack and stroke.
Lipitor is one of the most commonly prescribed medications. It will come as both a generic name (Atorvastatin) and brand name (Lipitor) at the pharmacy. Without health insurance, Lipitor will cost about $218.51 at any pharmacy counter, whereas Atorvatstatin will cost approximately $33.83 at Walgreens.
Atorvastatin is an oral tablet that you will typically just take once by mouth per day if prescribed. The most common side effect noted from taking a statin is some muscle pain and weakness.
Levothyroxine (Synthroid, Levoxyl, Unithroid)
Levothyroxine is a synthetically prepared thyroid hormone (T4) that aids in improving symptoms of hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism affects 4.6% of the population aged 12 and up and can cause various health conditions such as weight gain and depression.
Over the past ten years, Levothyroxine has increased in its ranks of top prescribed prescription drugs, coming out with 105,773,990 prescriptions total. Brand names of Levothyroxine include Levothroid, Levoxyl, and Synthroid. These brand name costs of Levothyroxine can cost anywhere from $25 to $69, whereas Levothyroxine’s average cost is about $31.
Levothyroxine can come as an oral tablet, oral capsule, or injectable solution. Levothyroxine oral tablet side effects include increased appetite, weight loss, heat sensitivity, and more.
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Lisinopril (Prinivil, Zestril)
Lisinopril is an angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor frequently used to treat high blood pressure. It’s also used in combination with other drugs to treat heart failure. It was the third ACE inhibitor to become available. Individuals may opt to use Lisinopril because it is longer acting than other drugs, as you only have to take one tablet per day instead of two or three.
With 97,608,879 total prescriptions, it has become one of the top three prescriptions prescribed within the last ten years. The brand names of Lisinopril include Prinivil and Zestril. Lisinopril can cost anywhere between $4 to $30 without health insurance, and Prinivil and Zestril may cost between $10 to $20.
Lisinopril comes as an oral tablet you can take. Some common side effects include dizziness, coughing, headaches, and excessive tiredness.
According to the CDC, more than 100 million individuals within the U.S. are living with diabetes or pre-diabetes. Metformin is one of the most common forms of treating type 2 diabetes specifically. It is also usually used in combination with exercise and a healthy diet to control blood sugar levels.
There have been about 83,762,981 total prescriptions of Metformin. Brand names of Metformin include Fortamet and Glucophage. Many pharmacies may offer Metformin for free or relatively inexpensive; overall, whereas the cost of Fortamet without insurance is about $2,200.
Metformin comes as an oral tablet. The side effects strongly associated with Metformin include heartburn, stomach pain, nausea, bloating, and weight loss. More severe side effects include anemia, hypoglycemia, and lactic acidosis.
Amlodipine is another drug that is used to treat high blood pressure and chest pains. It is a beta-blocker, and this drug tends to be relatively cheaper than other blood pressure medication alternatives.
About 75 million prescriptions of Amlodipine have been prescribed since it became available as a generic drug in 2005. On average, it costs about $27.32, and its brand name, Norvasc, costs about $94. The most common side effects of Amlodipine include headaches, feeling flush, fatigue, and feeling swollen.
Metoprolol (Toprol XL, Lopressor)
Metoprolol is another beta-blocker commonly prescribed to treat high blood pressure, chest pains, and heart failure. Metoprolol is unique in that it is typically suggested right after a heart attack may have occurred. Through this, Metoprolol can help reduce the incidence of other cardiovascular events.
There have been about 68 million prescriptions of Metoprolol in total. Brand names include Lopressor and Topol XL. The cost of these brand-name drugs can range anywhere from $147 to $400. Side effects of being on metoprolol include headaches, feeling dizzy, and fatigue.
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Omeprazole, commonly known as Prilosec, is known for combatting heartburn, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and stomach ulcers. It was the first proton pump inhibitor (PPI) to become FDA approved.
It has totaled about 58,264,566 prescriptions. Since its FDA approval, Omeprazole has also become available as Prilosec over the counter (OTC) and as a generic and brand name prescription. Although its average retail price is $82.49 for those without insurance, Prilosec OTC can cost anywhere between $10 to $22.
Omeprazole comes as an oral tablet you can take. Side effects may include constipation, gas, nausea, and diarrhea.
Losartan is yet another medication used to treat high blood pressure, reduce the incidence of strokes, and slow kidney disease progression in patients who have diabetes. Additionally, individuals with a specific medical condition known as left ventricular hypertrophy have been prescribed this medication.
There have been about 52 million prescriptions of Losartan. Most insurance companies fully cover Losartan, but the brand-name medication, Cozaar, costs about $138 for 30 tablets. Side effects of Losartan include blurred vision, difficulty breathing, dizziness, and nausea.
Albuterol (Ventolin HFA, ProAir HFA, ProAir RespiClick)
Every year, 1 in 13 Americans have asthma. Albuterol inhalers are a medication that can remedy asthma and other breathing issues such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Albuterol is a short-acting beta-agonist that works by relaxing the muscles within the lungs.
There has been a total of about 50,286,686 Albuterol inhalers prescribed. There are various brand names of Albuterol, including Proventil HFA, Ventolin HFA, and Proair HFA. Without insurance, brand-name versions of Albuterol will cost around $74, whereas generic Albuterol will cost about $53.74 at any local pharmacy.
As previously mentioned, Albuterol comes in the form of an inhaler. Side effects can include headaches, nervousness, or muscle aches.
Gabapentin (Gralise, Horizant, Neuraptine)
Gabapentin is an anti-epileptic used to treat seizures in adults who have epilepsy or nerve pain. It does so by affecting certain chemicals and nerves within the body that are involved with seizures and pain.
There have been about 45 million total prescriptions of Gabapentin. The brand name drug of Gabapentin is Neurontin, which can cost anywhere between $88 to $313 compared to the $68 that Gabapentin costs. Side effects of Gabapentin include hives, difficulty breathing, and swelling.
There are various prescriptions available; however, the top prescribed medications tend to treat common conditions across individuals within the U.S., such as high blood pressure and diabetes. These prescriptions can be expensive, though, especially if you do not have health insurance.
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Madeline is a Senior at UCLA majoring in Human Biology & Society with a minor in Spanish. She's currently a Healthcare Research Analyst at Mira, writing content for the blog to help the public better understand certain medical issues, technologies, testings, and the importance of healthcare.