Top 10 Medications Prescribed to Seniors

Dangerous drugs

By Nathan D. Williams, Staff Writer.

According to data released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) this past April, nearly 1/10 of all prescriptions filled for elderly Americans in 2013 under the Medicare prescription drug program consisted of four drugs.

Known as Medicare Part D, the program for disabled and elderly Americans went into effect in 2006. Nearly 36 million Americans participate in the Part D program. In 2013, $103 billion worth of prescriptions were filled under the program run by private insurers. According to a story in the New York Times, data found in the CMS report is “…the most detailed breakdown ever provided by government officials about the prescription claims of Medicare beneficiaries.”

Continue reading for a list of the top 10 prescribed medications in terms of cost in 2013.

1. Nexium - $2.53 billion

Be sure to read Big Pharma’s Sneaky Cash-Churning Schemes

Manufactured by AstraZeneca, this drug is used to reduce the amount of acid your stomach produces while also helping the esophagus heal from any damage caused by excess acid. Common side effects include dry mouth, increased gas and difficult bowel movements. Read more…

2. Advair Diskus - $2.26 billion

Consisting of a combination of fluticasone propionate and salmeterol xinafoate, Advair Diskus is used to treat asthma. The fluticasone helps prevent the release of substances that cause inflammation, while the salmeterol helps relax airway muscles to improve breathing. Common side effects include coughing, eye pain and headaches to name a few. It is produced by Glaxo-Smith Kline. Read more…

3. Crestor - $2.22 billion

Known generically as rosuvastatin, Crestor is manufactured by AstraZeneca and helps reduce the body’s level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or “bad” cholesterol) while helping to boost high-density lipoprotein (HDL, or “good” cholesterol). Common side effects include body aches, sore throat and coughing. Read more… Also see: Crestor and other Statins Linked to Cardiomyopathy

4. Abilify - $2.11 billion

Manufactured by Otsuka America, Abilify is used to treat the symptoms of various psychotic conditions like schizophrenia and manic depression, but is NOT approved to treat dementia. Symptoms of these conditions include aggression, mood swings and so on. Common side effects include difficulty speaking, drooling, restlessness and more. Read more…

5. Cymbalta - $1.96 billion

Known generically as duloxetine, Cymbalta is a “selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor” produced by Eli Lilly. It is used to treat major depression in adults and general anxiety in anyone over 7 years old. It’s also used to treat fibromyalgia and other chronic muscle and joint pain. Common side effects include body aches, loss of appetite, sore throat and sneezing. Read more…

6. Spiriva - $1.96 billion 

Consisting of tiotropium mixed with a little lactose monohydrate, Spiriva is used to increase air flow to the lungs. Narrowing of the airways in the lungs is a common symptom of COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Common side effects include fast or irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, sweating and chest pain. Spiriva is manufactured by Boehringer Ingelheim. Read more…

7. Namenda - $1.56 billion

Manufactured by Forest Laboratories, Namenda helps reduce chemicals in the brain that are believed to contribute to symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Known generically as memantine hydrochloride, Namenda is taken orally and is considered to be an active NMDA receptor antagonist. Common side effects include confusion, dizziness and rapid weight gain. Read more…

8. Januvia - $1.46 billion

With sitagliptin phosphate as the most active ingredient, Januvia helps control blood sugar levels in diabetics by regulating the amount of insulin your body produces after eating. Produced by Merck, common side effects include sore throat, coughing, ear congestion, loss of voice and sneezing. Read more… Also see: 2 Diabetes Drugs Linked to Pancreatic Cancer

9. Lantus Solostar - $1.37 billion

Lantus Solostar is actually a pen containing a sterile solution of insulin that a patient injects to regulate their blood sugar levels. The drug lasts up to 24 hours per dose and helps the body use sugar properly. Lantus is produced by Sanofi Diabetes. Common side effects include chills, cold sweats, drowsiness and excessive hunger. Read more…

10. Revlimid - $1.35 billion

Manufactured by Celgene, Revlimid is a cancer treatment that helps limit the growth of tumors in the immune system. More specifically, Revlimid helps treat low counts of red blood cells (anemia) and is also used to treat mantle cell lymphoma, myelodysplastic syndrome and more. Common side effects include black, tarry stool, coughing, chest pain, irregular heartbeat and loss of appetite. Read more… Also read: FDA Warns of Revlimid Link to Second Cancers

If you’re taking any of these or other medications and are experiencing any unusual symptoms, it’s important you seek medical attention as soon as possible!!

This report comes on the heels of a scathing critique from ProPublica on the methods used by physicians and specialists for prescribing medications. CMS hopes releasing this data increases transparency and helps the agency identify doctors who may be abusing the system.



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