Cholesterol-reducing drug Lipitor – ranked first

With a total nearly $5 billion, Lipitor, a cholesterol-reducing drug, ranked first in terms of total spending on prescription medicines by adults ages 18 to 64 in 2004, and another cholesterol-fighting drug, Zocor, ranked fourth at $2.3 billion, according to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Rounding out the top five prescribed drugs for adults were second- and third-ranked Nexium ($2.7 billion) and Prevacid ($2.4 billion) – proton-pump inhibitor drugs that reduce stomach acid — and Zoloft, an antidepressant ($1.9 billion), which ranked fifth.

AHRQ data also found that:
For people age 65 and older, Lipitor and Zocor ranked first and second in total spending ($4.35 billion and $2.4 billion, respectively), followed by Plavix, an antiplatlet drug ($1.7 billion), Norvasc, a calcium channel blocker that can be used to treat high blood pressure and certain kinds of chest pain, such as angina ($1.5 billion), and Nexium ($1.5 billion).

For children age 17 and under, the top five drugs when ranked by total expenses were Singulair ($680 million), a medication that can be used to control asthma, ranked first; Concerta ($490 million), Strattera ($430 million), and Adderall ($410 million), drugs commonly used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, ranked second, third and fifth, respectively; and Zyrtec, an antihistamine ($420 million), ranked fourth.