Cymbalta ranks as fastest-growing psych med

Psychiatric drugs are a big business, so it's no surprise that these meds rank among the industry's top sellers. But which psychotropic drugs, branded or generic, captured the most business in 2009? And how has the market changed in recent years? These are the questions PsychCentral set out to answer with a new top 25 ranking, which compares psych scrips in 2009 with those in 2005--and there are some interesting changes.

For instance, which drug saw scrips grow fastest over that five-year period? Kudos to anyone who picked Eli Lilly's antidepressant Cymbalta. Lilly had been turning in some impressive sales growth for that drug--and because it only launched in 2004, its 2005 numbers are a relatively low baseline--but still, a 237 percent increase in scrips to 16.6 million is impressive. Cymbalta is 7th on the list of top 25 psych meds, and its rival Lexapro is the only on-patent drug to outrank it, scrip-wise. 

Second in the fast-growth sweepstakes is AstraZeneca's Seroquel, which racked up an 88 percent increase in prescriptions and ranks 8th on the list, up from 13th in 2005. Last year, Seroquel scrips amounted to 15.8 million.

Most of the top slots are taken by cheaper off-patent drugs, naturally. Think Xanax (alprazolam) at No. 1 with an amazing 44 million scrips, up 29 percent; Ativan (lorezepam) at No. 3 with 25.9 million scrips and 36 percent growth, and Zoloft (sertraline) at No. 4 with 19.5 million scrips, a 28 percent decline. The list would be dramatically different if ranked by sales.

Check out the full list for more. Which drug lost the most scrips since 2005? Wellbutrin XL, which went off patent and saw scrips erode by 73 percent.

- read the ranking from PsychCentral