Record 4.02 billion prescriptions in United States in 2011
By on September 12th, 2012

IMS Health has released data for the number of prescription drugs filled in 2011 and the numbers are staggering. The American Chemical Society has released an analysis published in the journal ACS Chemical Neuroscience.


Lipitor tops the list of most prescription sales (Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

If you’ve ever doubted that the U.S. is an over-medicated society, these figures ought to bring you around. In 2011, 4.02 billion prescriptions were dispensed at a cost of $319.9 billion. Considering the population of the U.S. in 2011 was roughly 312 million, those numbers seem astronomical. Another factor in the ACS report that seemed hard to believe is that drug companies are actually seeing a decrease in revenue. This is mostly due to the continuing shift from brand name drugs, like Lipitor, to generic equivalents. They actually pointed out Lipitor specifically, because it was number one in terms of sales, but dropped 25 spots in terms of being prescribed in 2011. The generic form of Zocor, simvistatin, rose to number 3 on the list in terms of prescriptions given. According to the ACS report

The ACS report broke down several categories of prescriptions. The top 10 products in terms of sales were as follows:

  1. Lipitor
  2. Plavix
  3. Nexium
  4. Abilify
  5. Advair Diskus
  6. Seroquel
  7. Singulair
  8. Crestor
  9. Cymbalta
  10. Humira

Most of the prescription sales focused on five categories, which are  oncology, respiratory agents, lipid regulators, antidiabetics, and antipsychotics. The report also points out that among those prescriptions focused on the central nervous system, antipychotics and antidepressants top the market. It appears that drugs treating ADHD and Multiple Sclerosis are also emerging as well. Not only can a lot be discovered about the economic factors driving the pharmaceutical market, but much can be said for the overall health of Americans. With drugs like Lipitor and Plavix topping the list, it is obvious that heart health is a major problem in the U.S.

For more information, the ACS study can be found at

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Author: Darrin Jenkins Google Profile for Darrin Jenkins
Darrin is an IT manager for a large electrical contractor in Louisville KY. He is married and has 3 kids. He loves helping people with their technology needs. He runs a blog called Say Geek!

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