Chart of the Day: The Top 15 Prescription Drugs in America

bestsellingdrugs2011.jpg

These are the best-selling prescription drugs in America, according to the research firm, IMS Health. They form the shadow of our nation's ailments. Among pharmaceutical industry watchers, the big news is that the top 10 drugs are generics, i.e. the ones Big Pharma makes little money on. For the casual observer, what stands out is that five drugs treat high blood pressure and by far the best-selling drug in this country is Vicodin. People are stressed out and hurting, apparently.

The top 15 highest-grossing drugs treat a similar but not identical set of conditions, according to IMS. Three drugs treat heart disease and cholesterol. Three more treat depression and bipolar disorder. Arthritis and asthma each have two drugs in the top 15. Acid reflux, diabetes, anemia, cancer and pain round out the list. All of the medicines with the exception of Oxycontin are for chronic conditions. Update, 4/20: Turns out that the official indication for Oxycontin states that the drug should only be prescribed when pain relief is needed for an "extended period of time."

Comparing the two lists, the most striking contrast is the revenue potential of mental health drugs, which don't get prescribed that often, but rank way up on the sales list. Lipitor is the only medication that makes both lists.

highest grossing drugs.jpg

Presented by

Never Tell People How Old They Look

Age discrimination affects us all. Who cares about youth? James Hamblin turns to his colleague Jeffrey Goldberg for advice.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Never Tell People How Old They Look

Age discrimination affects us all. James Hamblin turns to a colleague for advice.

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

Video

Pittsburgh: 'Better Than You Thought'

How Steel City became a bikeable, walkable paradise

Video

A Four-Dimensional Tour of Boston

In this groundbreaking video, time moves at multiple speeds within a single frame.

Video

Who Made Pop Music So Repetitive? You Did.

If pop music is too homogenous, that's because listeners want it that way.

More in Technology

Just In