|And the winner is . . .|
The rest of the Top Ten in terms of number of prescriptions filled, according to WebMD (2010 data):
|Drug Name and Its Uses||Number of Prescriptions|
|Generic Zocor (simvastatin), cholesterol lowering statin||94.1 million|
|Lisinopril (brand names include Prinivil and Zestril), blood pressure control||87.4 million|
|Generic Synthroid (levothyroxine sodium), synthetic thyroid hormone||70.5 million|
|Generic Norvasc (amlodipine besylate), angina/blood pressure control||57.2 million|
|Generic Prilosec (omeprazole), antacid||53.4 million|
|Azithromycin (brand names include Z-Pak and Zithromax), antibiotic||52.6 million|
|Amoxicillin (various brand names), antibiotic||52.3 million|
|Generic Glucophage (metformin), diabetes||48.3 million|
|Hydrochlorothiazide (various brand names), diuretic, blood pressure control||47.8 million|
Hydrocodone's status as the top prescription drug in the U.S. will come as no surprise to anyone who's been inside an American drug rehab center. Hydrocodone and its virtually identical twin, oxycodone, are widely used recreationally (and for committing suicide). Where I live, in Florida, there are "Pain Clinics" on all the major highways. These "clinics" accept no insurance; cash only. Most are walk-in facilities (they don't require an appointment). You go in, pay your $250 to $300, see a doctor for a few minutes, pretend you're in pain, tell him or her which recreational drug you're interested in (Xanax, Vicodin, and Roxicet, etc.), and you leave with a prescription in your pocket a few minutes later. If you want to see how this works, with your own eyes, right now, just go to http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/oxycontin-express/ and watch the Peabody-Award-winning documentary The Oxycontin Express.
As for the other drugs in the chart: Most of the names should come as no surprise, given that heart disease is still (today, as a hundred years ago, before these medications existed) the No. 1 cause of death in the United States. Diabetes is the No. 7 cause of death in America (and is killing about 3% more people every year), hence metformin's strong showing in the chart is not unexpected. Likewise, you'd expect an antibiotic or two to be in the best-seller list.