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Annual US prescription sales hit $291 billion in 2008, but experienced slower-than usual growth of 1.3% because of slowing demand and the struggling economy, according to IMS Health, which also reported that dispensed prescription volume in the US grew at a 0.9% pace.

IMS Health reports that the lower growth rate was influenced by a number of factors:

  • Higher demand for less-expensive generic drugs
  • Lower new product sales
  • Reduced overall consumer demand because of the economic downturn

Top Therapeutic Classes by US Sales

Across the major therapy classes, antispsychotics accounted for the largest sales dollar volume, reaching $291.5 billion in 2008, up from $287.6 billion in 2007. Lipid regulators had the second highest sales volume, followed by proton pump inhibitors - which decreased in sales volume over 2007 - and seizure disorder inhibitors.

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Top Therapeutic Classes by Dispensed Prescriptions

Across the major therapy classes, lipid regulators were the most widely dispensed retail prescription medications on a volume basis in 2008, followed closely by codeine and combinations, anti-depressants, ACE inhibitors and beta blockers.

Top Pharmaceutical Products by Dispensed Prescriptions

Pain Reliever Hydrocodone with Acetaminophen (APAP) was the most widely prescribed individual medication, accounting for 3,843.1 million prescriptions in 2008. The second- and third-most-prescribed medications were ACE inhibitor Lisinopril and Simvastatin (brand name Zocor) for high cholesterol.

Top Pharmaceutical Products by Sales

Cholesterol-lowering medication Lipitor had the highest dollar volume of sales in the US ($291.5 billion), followed by Nexium, Plavix, and Advair Diskus.

Source: U.S. Prescription Drug Sales Grow Slowly; Hydrocodone Most Prescribed