Skip Navigation Archive: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Archive: Agency for Healthcare Research Quality
Archive print banner

U.S. Adults Spent More on Lipitor® in 2004 than on any Other Drug

This information is for reference purposes only. It was current when produced and may now be outdated. Archive material is no longer maintained, and some links may not work. Persons with disabilities having difficulty accessing this information should contact us at: Let us know the nature of the problem, the Web address of what you want, and your contact information.

Please go to for current information.

AHRQ News and Numbers

Release date: September 12, 2007

With a total of nearly $5 billion, Lipitor®, a cholesterol-reducing drug, ranked first in terms of total spending on prescription medicines by adults ages 18 to 64 in 2004, and another cholesterol-fighting drug, Zocor®, ranked fourth at $2.3 billion, according to the latest News and Numbers summary from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

Rounding out the top five prescribed drugs for adults were second- and third-ranked Nexium® ($2.7 billion) and Prevacid® ($2.4 billion)—proton-pump inhibitor drugs that reduce stomach acid—and Zoloft®, an antidepressant ($1.9 billion), which ranked fifth.

AHRQ data also found that:

  • For people age 65 years and older, Lipitor® and Zocor® ranked first and second in total spending ($4.35 billion and $2.4 billion, respectively), followed by Plavix®, an antiplatelet drug ($1.7 billion), Norvasc®, a calcium channel blocker that can be used to treat high blood pressure and certain kinds of chest pain, such as angina ($1.5 billion), and Nexium® ($1.5 billion).
  • For children age 17 years and under, the top five drugs when ranked by total expenses were Singulair® ($680 million), a medication that can be used to control asthma, ranked first; Concerta® ($490 million), Strattera® ($430 million), and Adderall® ($410 million), drugs commonly used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, ranked second, third, and fifth, respectively; and Zyrtec®, an antihistamine ($420 million), ranked fourth.

AHRQ, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, works to enhance the quality, safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of health care in the United States. The data in this AHRQ News and Numbers summary are taken from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS), a highly detailed source of information on the health services used by Americans, the frequency with which they use them, the cost of those services, and how they are paid.

More information on this topic is available in MEPS Statistical Brief No. 180: The Top Five Outpatient Prescription Drugs Ranked by the Total Expense for Children, Adults, and the Elderly, 2004 (PDF Help).

To speak with an AHRQ data expert, please contact Bob Isquith at or call (301) 427-1539.

Current as of September 2007


The information on this page is archived and provided for reference purposes only.


AHRQ Advancing Excellence in Health Care