Healthcare News & Insights

A peek in America’s medicine cabinet

Psych Central took a look at the most commonly prescribed psychiatric medications — and how they’ve changed over the past five years.

Using data from consulting firm IMS Health, Psych Central ranked psychiatric medications based on their total number of prescriptions dispensed.

The results were interesting, if not shocking. At the top of the list were fast-acting, short-lived anxiety/panic disorder medications: Xanax, Lexapro and Ativan took the top three spots. Xanax led by a mile with more than 44 million prescriptions — an increase of 29% since the last study in 2005. Lexapro prescriptions numbered only 27.6 million.

Zoloft, the popular anti-depressant came in fourth, with 19.5 million scripts — down 28% since 2005.

Rounding out the top 10 were (in order): Prozac, Desyrel, Cymbalta, Seroquel, Effexor XR and Valium.

Cymbalta was the fastest growing — it posted a 237% increase in prescriptions purchased/dispensed since 2005. Also showing steep increases in usage were Seroquel (88% increase) and Risperdal (45%).

Some formerly popular drugs dropped significantly. Wellbutrin, at number 22, is down 73% since it went off-patent and generics became available. Paxil and Klonopin have dropped off the top 25.

Visit Psych Central to see the entire list of the top 25 meds.

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