ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel


Updated on October 21, 2011

The Top Prescriptions

According to data recently released from IMS Healthcare Information, the top 10 prescription drugs currently dispensed in the U.S. are as follows:

  1. Hydrocodone/Tylenol (brand name Vicodin)
  2. Simvastatin (brand name Zocor)
  3. Lisinopril (brand name Zestril or Prinivil)
  4. Levothyroxine (brand name Synthroid)
  5. Amlodipine (brand name Norvasc)
  6. Omeprazole (brand name Prilosec)
  7. Azithromycin (brand name Zithromax)
  8. Amoxicillin
  9. Metformin (brand name Glucophage)
  10. Hydrochlorothiazide

Using this information, it is possible to determine what the most common conditions requiring prescription medication are1. Some of these medications may be used to treat more than one condition. In such cases we will focus on the most common medical condition for which the drug is generally used.

Based on this data, some of the most common health conditions requiring prescription medication are:

  • #1: Pain (Vicodin)
  • #2: High Cholesterol (simvastatin)
  • #3: High Blood Pressure (lisinopril, amlodipine, hydrochlorothiazide)
  • #4: Hypothyroidism (levothyroxine)
  • #5: GERD (omeprazole)
  • #6: Infection (azithromycin, amoxicillin)
  • #7: Diabetes, Type II (metformin)

I will now give you a brief overview of each of these conditions and their treatment with these specific medications.

1Note, this list does not imply that these are the top 10 "conditions" overall being treated by prescription medication. For example, this list contains no antidepressants due to the fact that there are many more antidepressant choices on the market, and no single medication for depression is used enough to propel it into the top 10 drugs.


1. PAIN (hydrocodone/acetaminophen - Vicodin):

Based on the volume of prescriptions dispensed for hydrocodone with acetaminophen (AKA Vicodin, generic) it would appear that "pain" is the most common condition for which a prescription medication is required. According to statistics from the American Academy of Pain Management, chronic pain affects more people than Diabetes, Heart Disease and Cancer combined!

Pharmacist Advice: Be sure to have several available pain relievers in your medicine chest, and be sure they are still effective (not expired). Chances are, you or I will need them at some point. If a prescription pain reliever is necessary, be sure to talk to your doctor about what you have tried in the past and what has worked for you. Asking for something available generically will save some serious money. For information on some prescription drugs for pain, see my article entitled: Oxycontin, Percocet and Vicodin information.

2. HIGH CHOLESTEROL (simvastatin - Zocor):

Given the fact that simvistatin is the #2 most prescribed drug, we can conclude that High Cholesterol (AKA hyperlipidemia) is a significant problem in the U.S. The statistics back this up. About 1 in 6 Americans have cholesterol levels considered to be "high risk."

While there are many approaches to treating elevated cholesterol, the most popular family of drugs turned to today are "statins" (like simvastatin). To read more about statins, see my article entitled What Are Statins?

3. HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE (hydrochlorothiazide, lisinopril, amlodipine):

Three of the top ten prescription drugs dispensed in the U.S. are indicated for the treatment of high blood pressure. Treating high blood pressure often involves using multiple medications from different "families" of drugs. The three drugs on our top 10 list belong to the following families:

  • Diuretics (hydrochlorothiazide)
  • Ace Inhibitors (lisinopril)
  • Calcium Channel Blockers (amlodipine)

For more information on High Blood Pressure read THIS ARTICLE

4. Hypothyroidism (levothyroxine - Levoxyl, Sythroid):

I would guess that most of us did not expect hypothyroidism to be the #4 condition when based upon the list of top 10 drugs. About 1 in 20 Americans has hypothyroidism. Treatment involves a daily dose of thyroid hormone in the form of a tablet. Levothyroxine (thyroid hormone) tablets are made by a variety of manufacturers and may be dispensed under such names as Synthroid, Levothroid, Levoxyl or Unithroid.

Proper levels of thyroid hormone are critical for proper metabolism, central nervous system function, weight, skin health and many other things. For best results, thyroid hormone replacement should generally be taken first thing in the morning on an empty stomach.

5. GERD (omeprazole - Prilosec):

GERD stands for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. Symptoms may include heartburn, but patients may also have GERD without pain. Other symptoms include nausea, hoarseness, chronic cough, asthma and bad breath.

GERD can be treated with medication to reduce the amount of acid created in your stomach. Medications that do this are called Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs). Omeprazole is a PPI.

Omeprazole is now available without prescription also by the name Prilosec OTC. For more information on treating GERD with a PPI see this article: GERD TREATMENT WITH PPI.

6. INFECTION (azithromycin, amoxicilin):

Azithromycin and amoxicillin are antibiotics used to treat infection. They both come in a variety of dosage forms (tablets, capsules, suspensions, injection). They are widely used to treat many of the most common infectious conditions for which we often arrive at our doctor's office. Examples of infections that we commonly treat with azithromycin and amoxicillin include: upper respiratory infections, sinus infections, ear infections, oral infections, throat infections and skin infections.

When taking antibiotics be sure to complete the full course of therapy. Take them at the same time daily. Some antibiotics, like azithromycin, are often taken for just 5 days - however the effectiveness of the antibiotic continues to persist for several days after stopping.

7. DIABETES (metformin - Glucophage):

Finally, coming in at #7, we have Diabetes. It is estimated that diabetes effects over 8% of the U.S. population, with a significant number of patients yet undiagnosed. Metformin is a unique prescription drug used to treat Type 2 Diabetes and appears to work through a variety of mechanisms to reduce overall blood sugar levels. Metformin is a generic medication. It is typically taken 2-3 times daily. Some forms of metformin are long-acting and only taken once daily.

For more information on Diabetes see:


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image

      treat gout naturally 

      7 years ago

      This really is a marvelous article. Thanks a ton for

      all of this. It is a great guide!

      Check this out on treatment for gout.

      treat gout naturally

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Thank you for clearing that up. I'll make sure her thyroid level is checked again. God Bless!

    • pharmacist profile imageAUTHOR

      Jason Poquette 

      7 years ago from Whitinsville, MA


      Levothyroxine is the generic equivalent of Synthroid. Often insurance requirements, or even State law regulations, require the generic to be dispensed. They are the same. However, it is not good practice to routinely be switching between them. Also, it is not a bad idea to schedule a thyroid level check several weeks after switching...just to be sure everything is still okay.

      Often brand name drugs eventually become unavailable when demand is too low. However, I believe both Synthroid and Lasix are still on the market...though as I mentioned...more expensive typically than their generics.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Hi! Is there a difference between Synthyroid and levothyroxine? My mom has been on Synthyroid for many years and her pharmacy switched her to Levothyroxine. She is very upset to say the least. The pharmacist told me Synthyroid is no longer available. They also switched her Lasix to a generic saying Lasix is unavailable. Is this true? Thank you!!

    • L.L. Woodard profile image

      L.L. Woodard 

      7 years ago from Oklahoma City

      I've been diagnosed with hypothyroidism since age 12, taking replacement therapy. I had no idea it was the fourth leading condition for which medicine is prescribed.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)