According to data based on requests from pharmacies, provided by IMS Health and recently published by Forbes, more than 250 million medications were prescribed by psychiatrists in the United States in 2009. The most commonly prescribed was Xanax – with almost 50 million annual prescriptions for Xanax (or generic equivalent, alprazolam), which means that every second (or less) there is a prescription for Xanax in America.
Top 15 sales in 2009 is as follows:
- Xanax (anxiolytic)
- Ambien (sedative)
- Lexapro (antidepressant)
- Ativan (anxiolytic)
- Neurontin (for anxiety and epilepsy)
- Klonopin (ibid.)
- Zoloft (antidepressant)
- Cymbalta (antidepressant)
- Adderall and other amphetamine salts, etc. as Ritalin (for ADHD)
- Effexor (antidepressant)
- Seroquel (schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression)
- Desyrel (antidepressant)
- Valium (anxiety, epilepsy, insomnia)
- Celexa (antidepressant)
- Prozac (antidepressant, very prescribed in the 90s and entered popular culture, performing the same social role in the de-stigmatization of depression as valium in the 70s for anxiety)
These are record sales figures, which appear in a culture that for decades have worried about the excessive consumption of such drugs. Although Xanax ranks first, however, with 169 million prescriptions in 2009, antidepressants recorded sales of twice as large as anxiolytics.
Today we talk about the United States as “a Xanax nation”. Launched in 1981 as the successor of Valium (Diazepam, invented in the early ’60s, so used by Americans in the ’70s), Xanax was used in anxiety disorders and panic attacks and from the outset have been a huge success. At least for the panic attacks Xanax was indispensable, because panic attacks seemed resistant to the administration of Valium. However, in the ’80s, with the explosive use of Xanax, were popularized the idea of panic attacks, that once seemed a very rare disease, but widely known today.
Some of these drugs raises concerns (such as Adderall, prescribed for ADHD, but suspect that it could trigger psychosis, or the most popular antipsychotic, Seroquel, sometimes used for insomnia and agitation in Alzheimer’s disease – indications that were not well studied).
A broader concern is about the fact that drug companies have cut many funds for research and to create new drugs. However, especially in what concerns patients with depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, the need for better drugs is enormous.
Sources: http://www.forbes.com/2010/09/16/prozac-xanax-valium-business-healthcare-psychiatric-drugs_print.html, http://www.forbes.com/2010/09/16/prozac-xanax-valium-business-healthcare-psychiatric-drugs_slide.html, http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/news/content/article/10168/1681732, http://awesome.good.is/transparency/web/1005/drugged-culture/flat.html