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The pharmaceutical drug industry has seen a huge decline in popularity of branded medicines in the past year — 2010 being the first year ever when all of the ten most popular medicines in the U.S. were cheap generics.

Soon, generic versions of seven of the world’s 20 best-selling drugs will be available, hinting that the use of generics will continue to be widespread.

According to data provider IMS Health, these are the most prescribed drugs.

Prescriptions in millions. Branded drugs are in bold:

2010 1-year growth (%) 5-year growth (%)
Drug (brand name) use 3995.2 1.16% 7.79%
1 hydrocodone/acetaminophen (Vicodin) pain 131.2 2.34% 16.73%
2 simvastatin (Zocor) high cholesterol 94.1 12.29% 553.47%
3 lisinopril high blood pressure 87.4 5.56% 34.05%
4 levothyroxine sodium (Synthroid) hypothyroid 70.5 6.82% 41.57%
5 amlodipine besylate (Norvasc) high blood pressure. 57.2 11.50% NA
6 omeprazole (Prilosec) acid reflux 53.4 17.62% 196.67%
7 azithromycin (Zithromax) antibiotic 52.6 -2.23% 44.11%
8 amoxicillin antibiotic 52.3 -0.19% -4.39%
9 metformin HCL (Glucophage) diabetes 48.3 9.03% 25.78%
10 hydrochlorothiazide high blood pressure 47.8 -0.21% -0.42%
11 alprazolam (Xanax) anxiety 46.3 5.47% 23.14%
12 Lipitor (atorvastatin) high cholesterol 45.3 -12.38% -38.78%
13 furosemide high blood pressure 43.4 -0.23% -2.03%
14 metoprolol tartrate (Lopressor) high blood pressure
38.9 -5.35% 33.22%
15 zolpidem tartrate (Ambien) insomnia 38 8.26% NA
16 atenolol high blood pressure 36.3 -7.63% -21.26%
17 sertraline HCL (Zoloft) depression 35.7 4.39% 230.56%
18 metoprolol succinate (Toprol) blood pressure 33 22.68% 5400.00%
19 citalopram (Celexa) depression 32.1 18.45% 129.29%
20 warfarin sodium (Coumadin) blood thinner 32 1.27% 19.85%


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