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Nov 25, 2013

Top 17 Abused Prescription Drugs of 2013

Too many people are breaking bad with these medicines.

Top 17 Abused Prescription Drugs of 2013

As the old PSA says, these pills aren’t candy. [© lacamerachiara - Fotolia.com]

  • The CDC, according to the White House’s website, classifies prescription drug abuse as an epidemic. Many young people who get involved with drugs start with prescription drugs, as they frequently view them as safer than illegal ones because they’re prescribed by doctors. So, which often-abused prescription medicines are the biggest troublemakers?

    Below is a list of 17 abused prescription drugs as listed by CDC, FDA, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), and nongovernment nonprofit sources on public websites. 

    This year’s list includes Soma (carisoprodol), given its reclassification last year by DEA to a Schedule IV controlled substance. Soma and a second product, Klonopin / Rivotril (clonazepam) were included among “commonly abused controlled pharmaceuticals” cited in a September 2012 agency presentation “Drug Trends, Long Island, NY,” by Joseph Rannazzisi, deputy assistant administrator of DEA’s office of diversion control.1

    Because sales figures were not available, several other drugs cited in the DEA presentation were not placed on the list; these include Demerol (meperidine HCl), Halcion (triazolam), midazolam (sold under the names Dormicum, Hypnovel, and Versed), and Restoril (temazepam). Another drug cited by DEA was propoxyphene (sold as Darvon and Darvocet), which maker Xanodyne Pharmaceuticals agreed to withdraw from the market in 2010 at FDA’s request, and thus is not on the list.

    Vicodin, however, remains on the list despite the absence of 2012 sales data, given both its wide use and abuse as a pain drug, and its classification as a hydrocodone combination product. Last month, FDA announced its support for reclassification of hydrocodone combination products like Vicodin from DEA Schedule III to Schedule II, the stricter standard now covering oxycodone products like OxyContin. DEA is expected to make a final decision next year. Officials have reason for concern: CDC data published in February showed hydrocodone and other opioid analgesics were involved in about three of every four pharmaceutical overdose deaths (16,651 of 22,134). They accounted for about 60% of the 38,329 U.S. drug overdose deaths in 2010—the 11th consecutive annual increase.

  • #17. Vicodin (hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen)

    Maker of brand-name drug: AbbVie; developed by Abbott Laboratories, which spun out its proprietary drugs operations as AbbVie effective January 2, 2013

    2012 sales: N/A

    2011 sales: $168 million2

    % Change: N/A

    Indication: Relief of moderate to moderately severe pain.

    Product history: Original Vicodin launched 1978 by Knoll. Reformulated reduced-acetaminophen Vicodin launched October 8, 2012. Patent expired.

    Generic versions available

  • #16. Valium (diazepam)

    Maker of brand-name drug: Roche

    2012 sales: $8 million3

    2011 sales: $10 million3

    % Change: -20%

    Indication: Management of anxiety disorders or short-term relief of anxiety symptoms.

    Product history: Launched 1963; patent expired 1980.

    Generic versions available

  • #15. Soma (carisoprodol)

    Maker of brand-name drug: Meda Pharmaceuticals

    2012 sales: $27 million4

    2011 sales: $46 million4

    % Change: -41.3%

    Indication: An adjunct to rest, physical therapy and other measures for relief of acute, painful musculoskeletal conditions.

    Product history: Launched 1959 by Wallace Laboratories; patents expired. Reclassified by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration as a Schedule IV controlled substance as of January 2012.

    Generic versions available

  • #14. Ativan (lorazepam)

    Maker of brand-name drug: Pfizer

    2012 sales: $30 million5

    2011 sales: $25 million5

    % Change: 20.0%

    Indication: Anxiety disorders or for the short-term relief of the symptoms of anxiety or anxiety associated with depressive symptoms.

    Product history: Launched 1971 by Pfizer predecessor Wyeth, which sold rights to Biovail in 2003; patent expired.

    Generic versions available

  • #13. Percocet (oxycodone acetaminophen)

    Maker of brand-name drug: Endo Pharmaceuticals

    2012 sales: $103.406 million

    2011 sales: $104.600 million

    % Change: -1.1%

    Indication: Combination opioid analgesic and anilide analgesic for relief of moderate to moderately severe pain.

    Product history: Launched 1976; patent expired.

    Generic versions available

  • #12. Fentora (fentanyl citrate)

    Maker of brand-name drug: Cephalon; developed by Cephalon before its 2011 acquisition by Teva

    2012 (year ending September 30) sales: Reported at $161 million6 and $121 million7

    2011 (year ending September 30) sales: Reported at $186 million7 and $159 million8

    % Change: -34.9%

    Indication: Management of breakthrough pain in adults with cancer who are already routinely taking other opioid pain medicines around-the-clock for cancer pain.

    Product history: Launched 2006; patent to expire 2019.

    Generic versions not available

  • #11. Klonopin / Rivotril (clonazepam)

    Maker of brand-name drug: Roche

    2012 sales: $194 million9

    2011 sales: $211 million9

    % Change: -8.1%

    Indication: Clonazepam is currently indicated for management of absence seizures and myoclonic seizures in children as well as generalized seizure disorders in both adults and children.

    Product history: Launched 1975; patents expired.

    Generic drugs available

  • #10. Xanax XR (alprazolam)

    Maker of brand-name drug: Pfizer; developed by predecessor Upjohn Laboratories

    2012 sales: $274 million

    2011 sales: $306 million

    % Change: -10.5%

    Indication: Management of anxiety disorder or short-term relief of symptoms of anxiety; treatment of panic disorder, with or without agoraphobia.

    Product history: Launched 1981; patent expired 1993.

    Generic versions available

  • Do you think the government should move to put limits on the availability and use of pain and mood-altering drugs?



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