Introducing the ClinCalc DrugStats Database and the 2017 Top 200 Drugs

ClinCalc DrugStats Database

We’re excited to announce the launch of our newest product at — the DrugStats Database!  This database provides free, web-based access to outpatient prescription utilization statistics for the United States encompassing more than 3 billion prescriptions annually.

Features of the ClinCalc DrugStats Database

By leveraging the database, users can identify trends and compare usage of approximately 500 different outpatient medications.  A few examples include:

1. What is the most common medication prescribed in the US?

In the most recent year on file (2014), lisinopril took the highest position by about 15 million more prescriptions compared to the second place medication, levothyroxine.  As shown from the DrugStats database, the usage of lisinopril has seen a steady increase over the past decade:

Lisinopril prescriptions (2004-2014)

2. What is the most common angiotensin receptor blocker (ARB) on the market?

Nearly all medications within the database have at least one Established Pharmacologic Class (EPC) provided by the FDA.  In reviewing the EPC page for ARBs, losartan (and the combination of losartan/HCTZ) make up about two-thirds of the entire ARB market in the United States:Angiotensin Receptor Blockers - Prescriptions in 2014 by Drug

In reviewing losartan specifically, its large market share is no doubt due in part to the fact that a generic product became available in the United States in the year late 2010 into early 2011.  In fact, the dramatic increase in losartan prescriptions can easily be visualized using the DrugStats database:

Losartan prescriptions (2004-2014)

The DrugStats database provides similar comparative data for popular drug classes such as antiepileptics, atypical antipsychotics, proton pump inhibitors, statins (HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors), and much more.

3. The “Top 200 Drugs” covers about 90% of all outpatient prescription drugs

Many colleges of pharmacy implement a “top 200 drugs” or “top 300 drugs” list for students to memorize basic facts about each medication (brand/generic, drug class, mechanism of action, etc.) in order to expedite their basic, foundational drug knowledge.

In the United States, there are approximately 500 active ingredients that are filled annually (in a variety of different dosage forms and salts).  The 200 most common (40% of 500) represent 90% of all prescription fills, and the 300 most common (60% of 500) represent an astounding 97% of all prescription fills:

The relationship of the top 200 and 300 medications and the total number of prescription fills in the United States

Of course, the inverse relationship also holds true — the “bottom 200 drugs” (the 200 least frequently filled medications in the U.S.) represents less than 3% of all prescription fills in the United States.

How was the DrugStats database created?

The DrugStats database is produced based on data from an annual survey conducted by the U.S. Government called the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS).  While this survey data is publicly available for free, an extensive process of sanitizing the data and standardizing the drug products is required in order to produce the DrugStats database:

Using the FDA National Drug Code (NDC), the FDA Orange Book, and the NLM RxNorm databases, all ClinCalc DrugStats entries must be standardized against known chemical entities. This process of sanitization and standardization results in a slight reduction of prescription data (less than 3%) but dramatically improves the accuracy and reliability of the resulting data set.  Click here to learn more about the DrugStats creation process.

Introducing the Top 200 Drugs and Top 300 Drugs of 2017 is excited to announce the 2017 Top 200 Drugs and 2017 Top 300 Drugs, both of which leverage the DrugStats database.  These two drug lists represent the most commonly filled outpatient prescription medications in the U.S. market using data collected from the MEPS survey in 2014.

Historically, the “top 200 drugs” was an annually published list using IMS Health data, which costs several thousands of dollars to subscribe to.  Because these data have not been published in more than five years, there has not been an “official” top 200 drug list in quite some time.

Now, with the use of the ClinCalc DrugStats database, a freely available, objectively produced, and annually updated “top 200” and “top 300” drugs list is now available to the public.

Click here to view the ClinCalc DrugStats Database

Flickr photo by Dave Herholz

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