Lipitor, Nexium still top-selling brands

Here's something for you competitive types, the ones who like to keep track of whose drug is bigger than whose. (You know who you are.) Last week's sad-but-true report from IMS Health on stagnating drug sales also included some lovely little nuggets on top brands by prescription and by dollar volume. Here we go.

The five drugs that accounted for the most dispensed scrips include four generics and just one branded product--and that brand saw scrips drop. Here's the list, with the number of scrips for 2008 and 2007 for comparison's sake. 

  • Hydrocodone with acetaminophen, generic painkiller, 124 million scrips in 2008, up from 119 million in 2007.
  • Lisinopril, generic blood pressure med, 75.5 million, up from 70.5 million in 2007
  • Simvastatin, generic cholesterol remedy, 66.7 million, up from 47.7 million in 2007
  • Levothyroxine sodium, generic thyroid hormone, 61.4 million, up from 55 million in 2007
  • Lipitor, Pfizer's branded cholesterol med, 57.9 million, down from 65.1 million in 2007

Now for the dollar figures. As you can imagine, all the top-dollar meds are brand-name drugs, simply because branded meds are so much more expensive. Here are the top five.

  • Lipitor, Pfizer, cholesterol, $7.8 billion, down from $8.1 billion in 2007
  • Nexium, AstraZeneca, heartburn/gastric reflux, $5.9 billion, up from $5.5 billion in 2007
  • Plavix, Bristol-Myers Squibb, blood thinner, $4.9 billion, up from $3.9 billion in 2007
  • Advair Diskus, GlaxoSmithKline, asthma/COPD, $4.4 billion, up from $4.3 billion in 2007
  • Seroquel, AstraZeneca, atypical antipsychotic, $3.9 billion, up from $3.5 billion in 2007

Now, here's your pop quiz: Are any of the top five branded meds due to go off patent soon? Yep. That's another sad-but-true set of facts. 

- read the report at Seeking Alpha