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Dec 11, 2012

Top 14 Abused Prescription Drugs

Should you just say no to these medicines?

Top 14 Abused Prescription Drugs

Unfortunately, prescription drug abuse is common—for some drugs much more than others. Here, GEN has compiled the 14 that top the list. [Andrew S. - Fotolia.com]

  • Anyone who has ever been a member of the D.A.R.E. program or even just watched their share of kids' television growing up is well aware of the dangers of illegal drugs. Yet, what about prescription drugs? Celebrities ranging from Michael Jackson to Rush Limbaugh and from Heath Ledger to Elvis Presley have battled (and, in many cases, lost the battle with) prescription drug addiction. So, which prescription drugs are the biggest culprits?

    GEN put together a list of 14 top abused prescription drugs, as listed by CDC, FDA, and nongovernment nonprofit sources on public websites. Sales figures were mostly supplied by the manufacturers; footnotes delineate where another source was used. Currency conversions are likewise delineated in footnotes.

  • #14. Ativan (lorazepam)

    Maker of brand-name drug: Pfizer

    2011 sales: $12 million1

    2010 sales: $11 million1

    % Change: 9.1%

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

    Year(s) of launch/Patent status: Launched 1971 by Pfizer predecessor Wyeth, which sold rights to Biovail in 2003; patent expired. Generic versions available by companies that include Actavis, Akorn, Apotheca, Bedford Laboratories, Baxter, Hospira, Ivax, Major, Mutual, Mylan, Ranbaxy, Sandoz, Teva, and Watson.

  • #13. Valium (diazepam)

    Maker of brand-name drug: Roche

    2011 sales: $38 million1

    2010 sales: $67 million1

    % Change: -43.3%

    14,694,000 prescriptions filled in 2011

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

    Year(s) of launch/Patent status: Launched 1963; patent expired 1980. Generic versions available by companies that include Apotheca, Barr, Baxter, Hospira, Ivax, Mylan, Parenta, Qualitest, Roxane, and Watson.

  • #12. Percocet (oxycodone acetaminophen)

    Maker of brand-name drug: Endo Pharmaceuticals

    2011 sales: $104.6 million

    2010 sales: $121.347 million

    % Change: -13.8%

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

    Year(s) of launch/Patent status: Launched 1976; patent expired. Generic versions available from companies that include Mallinckrodt and Roxane.

  • #11. Fentora (fentanyl citrate)

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

    2011 sales: $159 million (year ending Sept. 30)

    2010 sales: $181.6 million (year ending Sept. 30)

    % Change: -12.4%

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

    Year(s) of launch/Patent status: Launched 2006; patent to expire 2019.

  • #10. Vicodin (hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen)

    Maker of brand-name drug: Abbott Laboratories

    2011 sales: $168 million1

    2010 sales: $166 million1

    % Change: 1.2%

    Indication: Relief of moderate to moderately severe pain

    Year(s) of launch/Patent status: Original Vicodin launched 1978 by Knoll. Reformulated reduced-acetaminophen Vicodin launched Oct. 8, 2012; patent expired. Generic versions available from companies that include Hospira, Mallinckrodt, UCB, and Watson.

  • #9. Xanax XR (alprazolam)

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

    2011 sales: $306 million

    2010 sales: $307 million

    % Change: -0.3%

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

    Year(s) of launch/Patent status: Launched 1981; patent expired 1993. Generic versions available.

  • #8. Opana ER (oxymorphone HCl)

    Maker of brand-name drug: Endo Pharmaceuticals

    2011 sales: $384.339 million

    2010 sales: $239.864 million

    % Change: 60.2%

    Indication: Opioid agonist for the relief of moderate to severe pain in patients requiring continuous around-the-clock opioid treatment for an extended period of time

    Year(s) of launch/Patent status: Original formulation launched 2006; discontinued 2012. New crush-resistant formulation launched June 2012; patent to expire 2025. Generic versions of Opana ER 7.5 mg and 15 mg available from Actavis, which will join several companies expected to launch additional generic versions in 2013, including Impax, Sandoz, Teva, Watson, Roxane, and Ranbaxy.

    Is prescription drug abuse a serious problem in the U.S.?


Readers' Comments

Posted 12/12/2012 by katherine cane

What a brilliant idea to have listed
the most used drugs in America.
Valium and Vicodin take the cake.
This is a tremendously valuable addition to GEN. I just saw the article and got totally immersed in the story. What a pleasant surprise
I enjoyed voting in the polls.

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