Opioids and addiction treatment drugs are the most-prescribed drugs in 10 states

Opioids and addiction treatment drugs are the most-prescribed drugs in 10 states

The top seven drugs in each of the 50 states have been sorted and listed according to their prescription rates by researchers at GoodRx, the website and mobile app that tracks prescription drug prices and offers drug coupons across nationally.

The top seven drugs in each of the 50 states have been sorted and listed according to their prescription rates by researchers at GoodRx, the website and mobile app that tracks prescription drug prices and offers drug coupons across nationally.

View the interactive version of this map here.

Three of the seven most-prescribed drugs are related to heart disease – the number one killer in America. But two of the top seven are opioid painkillers like Norco or Vicodin, and Suboxone, a drug widely used to treat opioid addiction. Ironically, the opioid hydrocodone found in Norco and Vicodin, among other prescription painkillers, is complicit in thousands of overdose deaths and addictions.

And believe it or not, the overall, most-popular, most-prescribed drug in America is a synthetic thyroid hormone, prescribed when someone’s own thyroid seems unable to make enough of its own. Yet, as we explain below, most specialists in the field consider the treatment a waste of money.

Top 7 most-prescribed drugs by state

Here’s a list of the seven Number 1 (most popular, most prescribed) drugs in each state. You can see that opioid painkillers are ranked second out of the top seven:
1. Levothyroxine (Synthroid)
#1 in 26 states (AR, AZ, CO, CT, FL, IA, KS, KY, LA, ME, MI, MN, MT, ND, NJ, NV, OR, PA, SD, TX, UT, VT, WA, WI, WV, WY)
2. Opioid painkillers hydrocodone with acetaminophen (Norco, Vicodin)
#1 in 10 states (AK, AL, GA, ID, IL, IN, MS, NC, NE, OK)
3. Atorvastatin (Lipitor)
#1 in 5 states (CA, HI, MD, MO, VA)
4. Lisinopril (Prinivil, Zestril)
#1 in 5 states (MA, NH, NM, OH, RI)
5. Amphetamine salt combo (Adderall)
#1 in 2 states (DE, SC)
6. Amlodipine (Norvasc)
#1 in 1 state (NY)
7. Buprenorphine/Naloxone (Suboxone)
These drugs are also ranked from 2 to 7 in all the other states. You can see where each drug is ranked in each state, using the cool interactive map provided by GoodRx. Just point at a state to see the list of drugs ranked by popularity.

Top 10 causes of death

Just for the record, here are the top 10 killers in America, provided by the Medical News Today from CDC figures (latest data from 2014):

  1. Heart disease - 614,348
  2. Cancer - 591,699
  3. Chronic Lower Respiratory Diseases, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), bronchitis, emphysema and asthma - 147,101
  4. Accidents of all kinds - 136,053
  5. Stroke - 133,033
  6. Alzheimer’s - 93,541
  7. Diabetes - 76,488
  8. Influenza and pneumonia - 55,227
  9. Kidney disease - 48,146
  10. Suicide - 42,773

A note about accidental deaths

Drug overdoses don’t have their own category – they’re still on the official Accidental Death list. The CDC reported last year that nearly 64,000 people died from accidental drug overdoses in 2016, and a significant portion of those, well over 40,000, were from opioids, both prescription painkillers and street opioids like heroin and fentanyl.

Seeing as drugs caused more deaths than categories 8, 9 and 10 above, don’t you think they should have their own category rather than being lumped in with accidents? In fact, there now are more drug deaths than traffic deaths.

Unnecessary prescriptions - a final note

Here’s a final note about the number one drug in America, thyroid replacement hormone.

Is a sluggish, underactive thyroid gland one of the top killers? Hardly. A tired thyroid might make you feel, well, tired and out of sorts. Of course, if it seriously quits working, the results can be dangerous or even fatal. But that’s very rare.

According to the New York Times there were 121 million thyroid prescriptions last year, outpacing everything else. In fact, 15 percent of older Americans were taking them. But a recent study shows that the vast majority of patients don’t feel any better taking them.

Millions of older Americans diagnosed with an underactive thyroid are taking a medication that most doctors now consider pointless, said the Times. Millions of thyroid prescriptions may be enriching a few drug companies, but for most patients they’re a needless expense.

Here at Novus, we hear a lot about too many prescriptions being written – in this case, opioid painkiller prescriptions. But unlike thyroid drugs, they cause a lot more harm than just a needless expense.

If you or someone you care about is having a problem with opioids, whether prescription or street, don’t hesitate to call Novus. We’re here to help and will steer you in the right direction.

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