There are two ways to look at the top drugs prescribed in the United States. One way is to look at the drugs producing the most revenue in a given year:
Top Ten Revenue Producing Drugs in U.S.
|Revlimid||Transfusion-Dependent Anemia due to Myelodysplasia Syndrome|
|Enbrel||Ankylosing Spondylitis; Rheumatoid Arthritis|
|Herceptin||HER-2 Breast Cancer; Gastric Cancer|
|Eliquis||Prevent stroke due to atrial fibrillation; treatment of clots|
|Avastin||Metastatic Colorectal Cancer|
|Xarelto||Prevent clot formation especially due to non-valvular atrial fibrillation|
From this list we see many of the most expensive drugs prescribed, mainly for rheumatoid arthritis and cancer. One complete round alone of Rituxan injections averages $22,500. When comprising all aspects of cancer care, it is estimated to be a $125 billion a year business. Seventy-one per cent of revenue is directly due to cancer chemotherapy and related therapies. These related therapies include treatment of side effects due to chemotherapy, mainly anti-nausea and anti-vomiting meds, white blood cell stimulating factors, and red blood cell stimulating agents.
The business of treating cancer far outdistances the priority for curing cancer. With the number of patients diagnosed with cancer increasing by 58% in the last several years, more and more pharmaceutical companies are attempting to develop cancer chemotherapeutic agents.
However, three companies currently reap nearly 50% of the revenue—Novartis, Amgen, and Roche. You should also know that major pharmaceutical companies provide ‘supportive’ funding for The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is the only organization in the U.S. that can approve a new drug for use in humans.
Pharmaceutical companies also provide a large amount of grant money for cancer treatment research at major universities and medical centers. If the research site receives monies from a drug company, the research study design as well as the outcome results are overseen and directed by the drug company. As of this writing, there are more than 120 chemotherapeutic agents in various research developmental phases. From this information, you can draw your own conclusions about the business of developing cancer chemotherapeutic agents and the pursuit for a cure.
An alternative way to look at the top ten drugs, is to determine the total number of prescriptions written for a specific drug. See Table Two listing the top ten drugs for which the most prescriptions are written in the U.S.:
Top Ten Drugs Prescribed in U.S.
|Vicodin||To treat moderate to severe pain|
|Simvastatin||Hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol levels)|
|Lisinopril||High blood pressure (hypertension)|
|Levothyroxine||Low thyroid output (hypothyroidism)|
|Azithromycin||Common infections (bacterial, upper/lower respiratory)|
|Amlodipine||High blood pressure|
|Amoxicillin||Common infections (bacterial, upper respiratory)|
|Hydrochlorothiazide||High blood pressure|
The list in one sense is a cross-section of the ills in this country. With Vicodin at the top of the list, we have many people being treated for pain. But because Vicodin is a narcotic, it is also a contributing factor to the opioid crisis.
The other drugs on this list pretty much outline the more common medical conditions in the U.S. — high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, and common infections. In turn, these diseases reflect a need for possible changes in lifestyles, diets, as well as less stress and more exercise, not just merely a need for more drug therapy.
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