If you've had to wait in a long line at the pharmacy lately, you probably noticed how busy they are. While almost everyone has filled a prescription at some point, some medicines are prescribed more than others. Here's a list of the top 10 most prescribed drugs in the US, as well as some information about the conditions they treat.
Atorvastatin is the most prescribed medication, with over 112 million prescriptions written in 2019. It's used to help lower cholesterol and fat levels in your blood. Atorvastatin, together with a healthy diet and exercise, may help prevent chest pain, heart attacks, or strokes that are caused by having too much fat in your blood. Sometimes it's prescribed to prevent heart problems in people who have risk factors such as type 2 diabetes.
Over 102 million prescriptions are written for Levothyroxine every year, making it the second most prescribed medicine. Levothyroxine is a man-made hormone that is used to treat hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism is a condition where your thyroid doesn't produce enough thyroid hormone naturally. Your thyroid hormone helps your body stay warm, use energy, and keeps important organs such as your brain and heart working effectively.
Levothyroxine can also be used to prevent or treat an enlarged thyroid gland, called a goiter. A goiter can be caused by surgery, cancer, radiation treatment, or an imbalance of hormones.
Lisinopril is a type of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor used to treat high blood pressure. ACE inhibitors work by preventing an enzyme in your body from producing angiotensin II, a substance that narrows your blood vessels. When your blood vessels are relaxed, your blood pressure is lower.
Nearly half of all adults have hypertension or are taking medicine for hypertension, so this is a condition that affects many people. Doctors write almost 92 million prescriptions for lisinopril every year. High blood pressure increases your risks of heart disease and stroke, two major causes of death in the US, and lisinopril can help prevent this.
Metformin is used to treat type 2 diabetes, a condition that affects over 30 million Americans. When you have diabetes, your body can't produce enough insulin to keep your blood sugar at a normal level. High blood sugar can cause health problems such as vision loss, heart disease, and kidney disease.
Metformin helps lower your blood sugar levels. It's usually the first medicine doctors prescribe to treat type 2 diabetes. It can be used by itself or with other medicines, along with a healthy diet and exercise.
It is also sometimes used to prevent diabetes, treat diabetes in pregnancy and weight gain caused by antipsychotic medicines, and treat and prevent polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). However, these uses are not approved by the FDA. Almost 86 million prescriptions are written for metformin, making it the fourth most prescribed medicine.
Metoprolol is another medicine used to treat high blood pressure. It's also used to treat angina, which is a type of severe chest pain. It may lower the risk of having another heart attack in people who have already had one. Metoprolol is also used to treat heart failure. It's a type of medicine called a beta-blocker. Beta-blockers work by blocking hormones like adrenaline from increasing your heart rate. As a result, your heart slows down.
Amlodipine belongs to a group of medicines called calcium channel blockers and is used to treat high blood pressure. Calcium causes your heart to contract strongly and calcium channel blockers prevent calcium from entering your heart and arteries. This helps your blood vessels relax and open up. Amlodipine is also used to treat angina and other issues caused by heart disease.
Albuterol is used to treat bronchospasm, which is when your airways spasm and tighten and make it hard to breathe. Bronchospasms can happen when you have asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, and other lung diseases. They can also occur in some people when they exercise.
Bronchospasms can cause wheezing and coughing. Albuterol works by relaxing the bronchial smooth muscle. Albuterol is an adrenergic bronchodilator, which is inhaled through your mouth to open your airways.
While over 52 million prescriptions are written for omeprazole, it's also available over-the-counter without a prescription. Omeprazole is used to treat conditions that result from too much acid in your stomach. It's a proton pump inhibitor (PPI), which reduces the amount of acid your stomach produces.
There are many medical problems caused by too much stomach acid, including gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and dyspepsia. These conditions can cause indigestion, heartburn, and burping. Omeprazole can also be paired with antibiotics to treat ulcers caused by H. pylori bacteria.
Losartan is the fourth in the top 10 medicines used to treat high blood pressure. It's an angiotensin II receptor blocker (ARB). This helps your blood vessels relax and lowers your blood pressure. Losartan can also be used to help prevent strokes in people with heart disease. For people who have type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, losartan may be prescribed to help slow down long-term kidney damage.
Gabapentin works in your brain to prevent seizures and relieve certain types of pain. It is used to treat epilepsy, nerve pain after shingles, and moderate to severe restless leg syndrome. It's also sometimes used to treat other types of nerve pain, fibromyalgia, hot flashes after menopause, anxiety, mood disorders, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), alcohol withdrawal, migraines, itching, and insomnia. However, these uses aren't approved by the FDA.