Report Shows Hydrocodone and Oxycodone Use Continues to Increase

April 21, 2011

Audit of prescription data reveals that hydrocodone is by far the most frequently dispensed product in the US.

Audit of prescription data reveals that hydrocodone is by far the most frequently dispensed product in the US.

“The Use of Medicines in the United States: Review of 2010,” a report released yesterday by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics has some interesting information on medication spending and usage in the US, particularly when it comes to analgesics:

  • Spending on narcotic analgesics in 2006 totaled $5.7 billion; spending on narcotic analgesics in 2010 totaled $8.4 billion, a 47% increase.
  • Narcotic analgesics were the third-most prescribed medication class (behind only lipid regulators and antidepressants) in 2010, with a total of 244 million prescriptions written. This represents an 11% increase since 2006 (220 million prescriptions).
  • The single most prescribed product once again was hydrocodone/acetaminophen (ie, Vicodin), and it wasn’t even close — there were 131 million prescriptions for hydrocodone/acetaminophen dispensed in 2010; simvastatin came in a distant second at 94 million prescriptions. According to the IMS report, hydrocodone/acetaminophen has been the most-prescribed product for at least the last five years, and often by a wide margin.
  • That 2010 figure of 131 million prescriptions for hydrocodone/acetaminophen represents a 17% increase over 2006, when there were 112 million prescriptions dispensed for this drug.
  • Prescriptions dispensed for oxycodone/acetaminophen (ie, Percocet) have increased from 22.8 million in 2006 to nearly 32 million in 2010, a 40% increase.