Thursday, August 12, 2010

Top 10 U.S. Pharmaceutical Sales

The top money makers for the U. S Pharmaceutical Industry might surprise you.  These are not necessarily the most prescribed medications (although some of them are) but they are the top products in terms of sales in 2009.  The revenues were in $ Billions:
  1. Lipitor  -      used for high cholesterol                 $7.5
  2. Nexium  -    a proton pump inhibitor for reflux     6.3
  3. Plavix   -      a blood thinner                                 5.6
  4. Advair Diskus-   used for asthma and COPD            4.7
  5. Seroquel -    used for bipolar disorders                  4.2
  6. Abilify   -     used for bipolar disorders                  4.0
  7. Singulair-     for asthma and allergies                    3.7
  8. Actos     -     for diabetes                                      3.4
  9. Embrel  -      injectible for rheumatoid arthritis     3.3
  10. Epogen  -     injectible for low red cells                 3.2
All of these medications are used on a chronic basis.  One month of Advair inhaler can cost $150 - $200.  Lipitor can cost between $2.00-4.00 a day, even though there is no proven advantage over a generic that costs 25¢ a day.  Embrel is for severe rheumatoid arthritis but at a cost of $1500/month, how many seniors could afford it without Medicare Part D coverage?

Amgen has a monopoly with Epogen, used for patients on dialysis and other anemias.  The margin is believed to exceed 85%.  The Pharmaceutical lobby is second to none.

Hey, folks, I'm not against pharmaceutical medications.  I take them, I prescribe them and I believe we have enhanced life because of new discoveries.  But with Health Care Reform, it is time to look at all costs and there should be no sacred cows.


Stop smoking help said...

Many of our patients came back to the hospital (bouncebacks) because they couldn't afford their pricey meds - whether it be for COPD (Tiotropium - Spiriva), diabetes, or cardiovascular reasons.

I'm curious if there are any statistics out there that correlate the priciness of pharma to the creation of advertisement by pharma to target the patient directly.

I think a lot of the problems we have: over prescribing youth, excessive costs, pharma fraud, etc., has a lot to do with this direct advertising. I wonder if there have been any studies evaluating the effect of TV/radio programming/advertisement and its affect on healthcare?

For example, I remember several years back, our ER on Fridays would be full of people who all swear they had the same symptoms of the patients who were on the "ER" TV show the night before.

tracy said...


DVT said...

An interesting read on Pharma @

Health insurance and Medicare coverage of medication costs helps inflate the price. Pharmaceutical companies wouldn't be able to sell many/much of these high priced meds if patients had to pay out of pocket.

Steven Reidbord MD said...

Seroquel and Abilify are both antipsychotic medications originally marketed for schizophrenia. They were later FDA-approved for bipolar disorder as well. Even more recently, both medications were FDA-approved as adjunct (i.e., add on) treatment for major depression when a standard SSRI antidepressant has been ineffective.

Since depression is far more common than schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, this latest indication has been a sales boon for the manufacturers. Some psychiatrists, myself included, are concerned about the risk/benefit ratio of using these powerful medications as a second-line agent for a common problem, when several alternative and arguably safer treatment strategies exist.

The topic is discussed on my blog here (for Abilify) and here (for Seroquel).

Steven Reidbord MD said...

Sorry, those links didn't post as I expected. They are:

Pharmaceutical in Chennai said...

thanks for posting the top pharmaceutical companies.

George Melcher said...

Most of the people are getting sick these days, so the consumption of medicine also increases every year. The medicines today are cheaper, that's why the sales of the pharmaceutical industry has also increased. And for them to gain reputation, they are currently developing better quality medicines and that have been gone into extensive near infrared spectroscopy.

putas said...

So much useful data for everyone!

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