The Top 12 Medication Searches on Google

Anyone who watches news or sports on TV is no doubt familiar with the scores of commercials that describe a drug and then tell patients to "Ask your doctor." While many patients will eventually do just that, many more patients head to a more immediate source of information: Dr. Google.

Anyone who watches news or sports on TV is no doubt familiar with the scores of commercials that describe a drug and then tell patients to “Ask your doctor.” While many patients will eventually do just that, many more patients head to a more immediate source of information: Dr. Google.

Google, the undisputed king of Internet search, naturally keeps very good records about what people search for and why. Among the lists they regularly publish is a tally of the most common medication-related searches.

The list is a mix of prescription-only and over-the-counter drugs. Most are household names, known either by their brand name or by the compound’s generic name. Many of the most-searched drugs are used to alleviate pain, though the list covers a broad spectrum of conditions. A couple of items on the list aren’t specific drugs at all, but rather broad categories.

What follows are the 12 most common medication searches in 2014, according to Google. In addition to ranking information, each screen includes a basic look at the drug’s uses. Usage data come from Drugs.com and the National Library of Medicine.

12. Sertraline

Brand Name: Zoloft

2013 Rank: 11

Years in Top 10: 8

Sertraline is a prescription-only selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) used to treat depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic attacks, anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other conditions.

11. Sildenafil

Brand Names: Viagra, Revatio

2013 Rank: 13

Years in Top 10: 8

Sildenafil, best known by the blockbuster brand name Viagra, is used to treat erectile dysfunction. Another brand, Revatio, is indicated for the treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension.

10. Aspirin

Brand Names: Bayer, St. Josephs, various others

2013 Rank: 9

Years in Top 10: 7

This over-the-counter drug is used to treat pain and inflammation. A prescription-strength form is often prescribed to treat symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. An NSAID, the drug is also taken in low doses to prevent the risk of blood clots, strokes, and heart attacks.

9. Naproxen

Brand Names: Aleve, Midol Extended Relief, others

2013 Rank: 10

Years in Top 10: 2

Naproxen, another NSAID, is an OTC drug used to treat pain from arthritis, bursitis, and other conditions.

8. Paracetamol

Brand Names: Various

2013 Rank: 3

Years in Top 10: 2

Paracetamol is another name for acetaminophen, is widely used to treat headaches and reduce fevers in children and adults.

7. Tylenol

Generic Name: Acetaminophen

2013 Rank: N/A

Years in Top 10: 9

Tylenol is the most popular brand name of acetaminophen or paracetamol. It is manufactured by McNeil Consumer Healthcare, a division of Johnson & Johnson.

6. Tramadol

Brand Names: ConZip, Rybix ODT, Ryzolt, Ultram

2013 Rank: 7

Years in Top 10: 9

Tramadol is used to treat moderate to severe pain. The drug is available only with a prescription.

5. Steroid

2013 Rank: 6

Years in Top 10: 11

One of a couple generic drug categories on the list, steroids can be used to treat a variety of conditions. Corticosteroids can be used for arthritis and asthma, among other conditions. The prevalence of searches for steroids might also have to do with the fact that anabolic steroids are sometimes used by athletes to improve their performance.

4. Ibuprofen

Brand Names: Advil, Midol, Motrin, and others

2013 Rank: 2

Years in Top 10: 6

Another NSAID, ibuprofen is a common over-the-counter treatment for headaches, back pain, and other inflammation. A prescription-strength form is often prescribed to treat more serious inflammation.

3. Alprazolam

Brand Names: Niravam, Xanax

2013 Rank: 4

Years in Top 10: 11

Alpraxolam is a benzodiazepine and is used for the treatment of anxiety and panic disorders, and for depression brought on by anxiety. It is available by prescription only.

2. Adderall

Generic Name: Amphetamine and Dextroamphetamine

2013 Rank: 5

Years in Top 10: 10

Adderall, a prescription-only drug, is used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy.

1. Antibiotics

2013 Rank: 1

Years in Top 10: 11

The most common medication search of the year was also very broad. Antibiotics, of course, are members of a broad category of prescription drugs. Many experts warn they are overprescribed. They also have made news recently due to concerns about the amount of antibiotics fed to livestock.