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What are the most prescribed drugs in the U.S., and how much do they cost for the patients who need them? We’ve created a list of the top 50 most common medications in America, outlining what they treat, what their brand names are, and the average retail price consumers are expected to pay at the pharmacy. From ACE inhibitors to inhalers to anti-depressants, these most commonly used drugs are absolutely necessary to America’s health, combating common ailments like heart attacks, diabetes, and mental illnesses. These prescriptions are given out to millions of people on a regular basis. As a result, we’re dependent on hundreds of types of prescription drugs.
This list of common drugs also points out the extreme price differences of life-giving medication. A few of the most prescribed medications can be absolutely unfeasible for the wallets of some of America’s poorest people. For example, rosuvastatin, a cholesterol medication, averages an absurd retail price of $433.82. Meanwhile, the humble aspirin, one of the most common drugs available, only costs an average of $3.86. This can help to illustrate the cost of prescription drugs in America and how unpredictable switching meds can be, often causing the mental strain of poverty to affect the physical health of patients.
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Disclaimer: Please do not use this list of America’s most commonly prescribed drugs to self-medicate, identify pills, or comparison-shop for treatments. Always contact your doctor and/or pharmacist for prescription help and questions.
The Top 10 Most Common Drugs by Total Prescriptions
1. Lisinopril: 104 Million Prescriptions
Selling under brand names like Prinivil and Zestril, this ACE inhibitor is the most prescribed medication in the United States. It’s used for high blood pressure treatment and heart failure prevention to help improve survival after a heart attack. It makes sense, since heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States, killing 650,000 people annually.
2. Atorvastatin: 104 Million Prescriptions
When Americans talk about the high cost of prescription drugs, examples include atorvastatin, which is sold under the brand name Lipitor. It averages $218.51 at the pharmacy counter. This is a treatment to lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart attack and strokes.
3. Levothyroxine: 101.9 Million Prescriptions
The third on the list of the most used drugs in the U.S. is this hypothyroidism treatment, sold under brand names like Levo-T, Synthroid, Euthyrox, and Levoxyl. Hypothyroidism affects 4.6% of the population ages 12 and up and can lead to a host of issues, from weight gain to depression.
4. Metformin: 78.6 Million Prescriptions
More than 100 million patients in the U.S. are living with diabetes or pre-diabetes, according to the CDC. Metformin is among the most commonly prescribed drugs for type 2 diabetes, selling under the brand names Glucophage, Fortamet, Glumetza, and Riomet.
5. Amlodipine: 72.5 Million Prescriptions
Another one of the commonly prescribed medications for high blood pressure, chest pain, and coronary artery disease, this drug is a bit cheaper than alternatives, with an average cost of $27.34. Brand-name versions like Norvasc, Katerzia, and Amvaz may be more expensive, however.
6. Metoprolol: 68 Million Prescriptions
Heart attacks are extremely common, and prescribed drugs like Lopresso and Toprol provide treatment for high blood pressure and chest pain as a treatment for heart failure. This medication is referred to as a beta blocker.
7. Omeprazole: 58.8 Million Prescriptions
Gastrointestinal problems like reflux, ulcers, heartburn, and IBS are often treated by popular prescription drugs like Prilosec, which uses omeprazole as a key ingredient.
8. Simvastatin: 56.7 Million Prescriptions
This is yet another of the popular medications used to help reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke, this time by decreasing the “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and increasing the “good” cholesterol (HDL).
9. Losartan: 52 Million Prescriptions
People with a heart condition called left ventricular hypertrophy tend to be prescribed this medication, which is also used for treating high blood pressure. This prescription is a bit more expensive, though, at an average of $128.90.
10. Albuterol: 50 Million Prescriptions
Asthma affects 1 in 13 Americans. Asthma and other breathing issues like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are treated by albuterol inhalers, which come under the brand names Proair, Accuneb, Proventil, and Ventolin. Unfortunately, these necessary, common prescription drugs have risen in price, currently at an average of $53.75.