Metabolics, CNS meds top drug spending with $87B

The latest numbers on biggest-selling prescription drug classes are in. The number-one selling therapeutic class is metabolic drugs, with $52.2 billion in sales, or more than one-fifth of all prescription drug expenses in the U.S. Some 33.8 percent of adults have been prescribed drugs in this class, which includes diabetes remedies.

Next in line: central nervous system remedies, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's drugs, epilepsy drugs and pain relievers. They account for $35.1 billion in spending, but because they're cheaper on average than other classes of drugs, they claim a larger percentage of scrips. Some 46 percent of U.S. adults have been prescribed a CNS drug over the past year.

Cardiovascular drugs such as clotbusters and antihypertensives captured third place, with $28.6 billion and 41.4 percent of adults. Gastrointestinal meds accounted for $20.2 billion in spending, and fifth-place psychotherapy meds accounted for $19.6 billion. Together, the top five made up $155.7 billion in drug spending, or two-thirds of the U.S. total.

- read the story at ACP Internist
- see the report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality