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Insight & Intelligence™ : Dec 11, 2012

Top 14 Abused Prescription Drugs

Should you just say no to these medicines?

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.

#7. Lunesta® (eszopiclone)

Maker of brand-name drug: Dainippon Sumitomo Pharma

2011 sales: $511 million (¥42.1 billion)2

2010 sales: $654 million (¥53.9 billion)2

% Change: -21.9%

Indication: Insomnia in adults

Year(s) of launch/Patent status: Launched 2005 by Sepracor; patent to expire 2014.

#6. Adderall XR (amphetamine/dextroamphetamine)

Maker of brand-name drug: Shire

2011 sales: $533 million

2010 sales: $361 million

% Change: 47.6%

Indication: Once-daily central nervous system stimulant for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Year(s) of launch/Patent status: Launched 2001; patent expired 2009. Authorized generic versions entered market 2009; generic versions available from Eon, Ranbaxy, and Teva. On June 25, 2012, Actavis received FDA approval for generic extended-release formulations of all available strengths of Adderall.

#5. Ritalin / Focalin (methylphenidate HCl)

Maker of brand-name drug: Novartis

2011 sales: $550 million

2010 sales: $464 million

% Change: 18.5%

Indication: Central nervous system stimulant for treatment of Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy

Year(s) of launch/Patent status: Launched 1948 by predecessor company Ciba; patent expired 1967. Authorized generic versions available.

#4. Zoloft (sertraline HCl)

Maker of brand-name drug: Pfizer

2011 sales: $573 million

2010 sales: $532 million

% Change: 7.7%

Indication: Major depressive disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, and social anxiety disorder; OCD in children and adolescents aged 6–17 years

Year(s) of launch/Patent status: Launched 1991; Patent expired 2006. Authorized generic versions available.

#3. Ambien (zolpidem tartrate)

Maker of brand-name drug: Sanofi (also sold as Ambien CR, Stilnox, and Myslee)

2011 sales: $635 million (€490 million)2

2010 sales: $1.062 billion (€819 million)2

% Change: -40.2% reported basis; -41.4% at constant exchange rates

Indication: Insomnia characterized by difficulties with sleep onset and/or sleep maintenance

Year(s) of launch/Patent status: Original formulation launched 1993; patent expired 2007. Ambien CR (extended-release formulation) launched 2005; patent to expire 2020. Authorized generic versions available; 13 generic versions have been approved by FDA including one by Sanofi.

#2. Concerta (methylphenidate HCl)

Maker of brand-name drug: Janssen Pharmaceuticals

2011 sales: $1.268 billion

2010 sales: $1.319 billion

% Change: -3.9%

Indication: Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as part of a total treatment program that may include counseling or other therapies.

Year(s) of launch/Patent status: Launched with Alza 2000; patent ruled invalid 2011. Generic versions available from Impax, and Watson, with Impax and Teva planning to launch additional generic versions by July 14 after both settled patent litigation Johnson & Johnson.

#1. OxyContin (oxycodone HCl)

Maker of brand-name drug: Purdue Pharma

2011 sales: $2.8 billion

2010 sales: $3.1 billion

% Change: -9.7%

Indication: Moderate to severe pain who require around-the-clock opioids for an extended time

Year(s) of launch/Patent status: Original formulation launched 1996; patent expires 2013. New crush-resistant formulation launched 2010; patent expires 2025. Authorized generic versions available.