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Contents: Most common prescribed Drugs | Heart Medications | Pain Medications | Drug Interactions | Pharmacies mistakes | Drug naming | Drug Interaction Checkers: | Medication tracking apps: | Illegal & Addictive Drugs | Glossary:

Most common prescribed Classes of Drugs
Nine-out-of-10 senior citizens in the United States and more than half (58 percent) of all non-seniors regularly rely on a prescribed drug, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
In 2016 one in 10 people take five or more drugs - twice the percentage seen in 1994.

Notation: Brand Name (Generic Name)
Only an example of the drugs used in each class are shown. All of the 30 most frequently prescribed drugs are listed.
Rnk Class Use Most
Number of
1 Lipid Regulators Mainly statin drugs, used to prevent dyslipidemia (high blood cholesterol) Lipitor (Atorvastatin Calcium), Crestor (rosuvastatin calcium), Simvastatin, Pravachol (pravastatin) 255 M
2 Antidepressants - Anxiety
See also tranquilizers below
Depression & Anxiety,
See Anxiety and Depression Medications
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs): Prozac (fluoxetine), Paxil (paroxetine), Zoloft (sertraline Hcl),Citalopram (Celexa), Luvox
Benzodiazepines Valium, Ativan and Xanax (Alprazolam)
Atypical: Desyrel (Trazodone HCL), Zyban (bupropion)
254 M
3 Narcotic Analgesics Pain (Headache, Musculoskeletal), Chronic pain (arthritis, back pain, COPD) Oxycontin (Oxycodone HCl), Vicodin (Hydrocodone Bitartrate and Acetaminophen) 244 M
4 Beta-Blockers Heart disease (Arrhythmia, ...), particularly high blood pressure (Hypertension), as well as glaucoma, hyperthyroidism and migraines Brevibloc (esmolol HCI), Lopressor (Metoprolol) 191 M
5 ACE Inhibitors High blood pressure, migraines Lisinopril (Prinivil, Zestril), Lotensin (Benazepril), Capoten (captopril) 169 M
6 Antidiabetes Blood Sugar Insulin, Lantus (insulin pen), Glucophage (Metformin) 165 M
7 Respiratory Agents Asthma, COPD Ventolin (Albuterol),
Advair Diskus
Singulair (Montelukast)
see also Corticosteroids
153 M
8 Anti-Ulcerants
Proton Pump Inhibitors
Dyspepsia, Gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD), Ulsers Nexiam, Pantoprazole, Omeprazole 147 M
9 Diuretics Release water, High blood pressure Hydrochlorothiazide (Microzide) 131 M
10 Anti-Epileptics epilepsy, nerve pain (shingles) gabapentin (Neurontin) 122 M
11 Tranquilizers ADHD, schizophrenia, delusional disorder, mania Vyvanse, Valium (diazepam) 109 M
12 Thyroid Preps Synthroid, Levoxyl, Levothyroxine 107 M
13 Calcium Channel Blockers
Calcium Antagonists
Irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia), heart attack Norvasac (Amlodipine Besylate) 98 M
14 Antiemetics Nausea (dopamine & serotonin inhibitors) Compazine, Zofran (ondansetron) 95 M
15 Hormonal Contraceptives Birth Control estrogen and a progestin 92 M
16 Angiotensin receptor antagonist
or blocker
High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) Cozaar (losartan potassium), Lasix (furosemide) 84 M
17 Penicillin Antibiotics bacterial infections Amoxil (Amoxicillin), Azithromycins 76 M
? Blood Thinners
Atrial fibrillation, stroke, heart attack, Pulmonary Embolism (PE) Coumadin (Warfarin), Xarelto (Rivaroxaban), Plavix (clopidogrel) > 100 M
? Corticosteroids Immunosuppressant, Asthma, allergy, bronchitis, rheumatoid arthritis, poison ivy Delasone, Sterapred (prednisone), Cortef (hydrocortisone), Flonese (Fluticasone)
Source: The Most Prescribed Medications in the U.S. by Drug Class | TheBalance.com, 2016
See also:
10 Most Popular Prescriptions - GoodRx, 2017
Most Common Types of Medications List | MA Pharm.com
Legal Classifications of Drugs | rehabs.com
The 10 Most-Prescribed and Top-Selling Medications
ClinCalc DrugStats Database and the 2017 Top 200 Drugs - ClinCalc.com
Heart Medications

Drug Interactions
Many drugs work fine when taken by themselves, but when taken with another drug, even for a different problem, can result in unwanted side effects, reduce the effectiveness of your medicine or possibly increase the action of a particular medicine.

See Drug Interaction Checkers (web sites and apps) below

Dangerous drug combinations are a major public health problem, hospitalizing tens of thousands of people each year. Pharmacists are the last line of defense, and their role is growing as Americans use more prescription drugs than ever. One in 10 people take five or more drugs - twice the percentage seen in 1994.

Your doctor and pharmacy should warn you about these interactions and not prescribe or give you drugs which in combination will adversely effect your health or possibly kill you.

Two years ago, at the age of 70, I had a heart problem that required a stent. My cardiologist put me on a cholesterol drug and a blood thinner. I went off the blood thinner after 6 months with a normal ekg.
However a followup check a year later with a 24 hour Holter Monitor revealed an heart arrhythmia.
I was put back on the blood thinner and given a drug for the arrhythmia.
Another arrhythmia drug, amiodarone, was prescribed shortly thereafter when I had a TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack) in my eye.

After looking thru 7 pages of documentation provided by the pharmacy (Wallmart) with the amiodarone that had statements like "This drug will be started in a hospital where you will be closely watched", I decided to hold off taking it until I could talk to my cousin, a physician.
The documentation said nothing about interactions.

It's a good thing I held off. A couple of drug interaction checkers (see below) found several serious interactions.

Pharmacies miss half of dangerous drug combinations
How the pharmacies performed.

In December 2016, the Tribune tested Chicago-area pharmacy chains as well as independent drugstores. The test was recorded as a fail if the store did not warn about the drug interaction and did not try to discuss it with the prescribing physician.

See Pharmacies miss half of dangerous drug combinations - Chicago Tribune.

In 2011 a study conducted at the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy found that only 28 percent of pharmacies' clinical decision support software systems – the computer programs that are in place to alert pharmacists to possible medication problems - correctly identified potentially dangerous drug-drug interactions.
See Study shows pharmacies' software systems miss potentially dangerous drug-drug interactions | College of Pharmacy - University of Arizona
Drug naming Examples:
There is online software and smart phone apps you can use to check yourself.
I had several problems with these, some because of drug naming.
Some required a brand name (e.g. Lipitor) but the pill bottle only had the generic name (Atorvastatin).

Drugs have several names. Some examples:
Chemical Name1 Generic Name Class Brand or Trade
N-(4-hydroxyphenyl) acetamide Acetaminophen nonopioid Analgesics Tylenol pain, fever
ACETYLSALICYLIC ACID Aspirin nonopioid Analgesics Bayer Aspirin, Bufferin, ... pain, fever
2-(4-isobutylphenyl)propanoic acid Ibuprofen Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) Advil, Motrin, Aleve anti-inflamatory, pain
Dihydrocodeinoneoxycodone Opioid OxyContin Pain Relief
DiacetylmorphineHeroin Opiate dope, H, smack, junk Pain Relief
dl-threo-2-(methylamino)-1-phenylpropan-1-ol Pseudoephedrine Decongestant Sudafed colds, sinusitis, and hay fever
bis[(E)-7-[4-(4-fluorophenyl)-6-isopropyl-2- [methyl(methylsulfonyl)amino] pyrimidin-5-yl](3R,5S)-3,5-dihydroxyhept-6-enoic acid] Rosuvastatin calcium Lipid Reguator
Crestor LDL cholesterol lowering
[R-(R*, R*)]-2-(4-fluorophenyl)-β, δ-dihydroxy-5-(1-methylethyl)-3-phenyl-4- [(phenylamino)carbonyl]-1H-pyrrole-1-heptanoic acid, calcium salt (2:1) trihydrate Atorvastatin Lipid Reguator
Lipitor, Atorva LDL cholesterol lowering
Amoxicillin Penicillins, antibiotic Amoxicillin, Augmentin2 bacterial infections
Warfarin sodium Warfarin Blood Thinner, Antiplatelet agent3 Coumadin atrial fibrillation, stroke, heart attack4
(S)-Clopidogrel; Clopidogrel [INN:BAN] Clopidogrel Blood Thinner, Antiplatelet agent3 Plavix atrial fibrillation, stroke, heart attack4
(S)-5-Chloro-N-({(5S)-2-oxo-3-[4-(3-oxo-4-morpholinyl)phenyl]-1,3-oxazolidin-5-yl}methyl)-2-thiophenecarboxamide Rivaroxaban Blood Thinner, Anticoagulant3 Xarelto atrial fibrillation, stroke, heart attack4
N1-(5-chloro-2-pyridinyl)-N2-((1S,2R,4S)-4- ((dimethylamino)carbonyl)- 2-(((4,5,6,7-tetrahydro-5-methylthiazolo(5,4-C)pyridin-2-yl)carbonyl)amino)cyclohexyl) Edoxaban Blood Thinner, Anticoagulant3 Savaysa atrial fibrillation, stroke, heart attack4
Metoprolol succinate; Selozok; Spesicor Dos; Seloken ZOC Metoprolol Beta Blocker Loprestor, Toprol-XL, Atenolol (Tenormin) heart attack, ventricular tachycardia, hypertension

1. Drugs also have a chemical formula or structure. e.g. Tylanol is C8H9NO2  
  Some drugs have several chemical names.
Some are listed Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) National Library of Medicine (NLM)
Many have CAS (Chemical Abstracts Service) numbers assigned to them. 2. Amoxicillin is both a Generic and Brand name.
  Augmentin is Amoxicillin and clavulanate potassium.
3. Blood Thinners work in different ways. See blood thinners.
4. Blood thinners can also be used after knee or hip surgery, PTE and DVT.

Drug Interaction Checkers:
Multi-Drug Interaction Checker | Medscape.com
Required brand name (e.g. Lipitor) for some, but my pill bottle only had the generic name (Atorvastatin)
Includes supplements.

Drug Interactions Checker - For Drugs, Food & Alcohol | Drugs.com
Includes supplements.

Interaction Checker | WebMD

Drug Interactions Checker - Check Your Brand and Generic Drugs - RxList

My case study:
I checked interactions with 4 drugs prescribed by my cardiologist.
Lipitor (Atorvastatin) a cholesterol drug, Savaysa (Edoxaban) a blood thinner, Lopressor (Metoprolol) a drug to control ventricular tachycardia, and Amiodarone a drug to control A-fib.
Multi-Drug Interaction Checker | Medscape.com

Gave me 2 "Serious - Use Alternative" interactions:
amiodarone + edoxaban and atorvastatin + edoxaban
atorvastatin and amiodarone will increase the level or effect of edoxaban. and 3 "Monitor Closely" Interactions
amiodarone + metoprolol, amiodarone + atorvastatin, amiodarone + metoprolol

Drug Interactions Checker - For Drugs, Food & Alcohol | Drugs.com

Gave me 1 Major interaction :
amiodarone < > edoxaban
Amiodarone may increase the blood levels of edoxaban. This can increase the risk of serious or life-threatening bleeding complications.
Gave me 2 Moderate Interactions:
amiodarone < > metoprolol and amiodarone < > atorvastatin

My cardiologist and GP both said amiodarone (A-fib med) may increase the effect of the Savaysa (Edoxaban) (blood thinner), but unless I have symptoms of excessive bleeding, e.g. blood in bowl movements, they are OK together.
I took amiodarone and Savaysa (Edoxaban) for a month with no problem.

Medication tracking apps:
CareZone | Easily organize health information in one place.
Medisafe - Solutions: Android | iPhone
Round Health - A better way to remember your medicine
Food, Herbal and Dietary Supplement-Drug Interactions
About one in four persons taking prescription medication also take a dietary supplement.1,2 According to the National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), a dietary supplement can be a vitamin, a mineral, an herb or other botanical, an amino acid, or other such substances or their constituents.

For example:
Grapefruit interacts with Statins.
Cranberry juice, Fish Oil, Garlic, Ginko, Ginseng, Vitamin E and St. Johns Wart interact with Warfarin (Antiplatelet)

Read the documentation that comes with your prescription.

I need to do more checking for sources on this.
Herbal and Dietary Supplement-Drug Interactions in Patients with Chronic Illnesses - American Family Physician

Depressants - alcohol, Valium, Xanax, Librium, and barbiturates.
Hallucinogens - Hallucinogens have powerful mind-altering effects and can change
           how the brain perceives time, everyday reality, and the surrounding environment.
           LSD, PCP, MDMA (Ecstasy), marijuana, mescaline, and psilocybin.
Opiates - Derived from popy plant. See below
Stimulants - A class of drugs that elevate mood, increase feelings of well-being,
          and increase energy and alertness. 
          Cocaine, methamphetamine, amphetamine, MDMA (Ecstasy), nicotine, and caffeine.
See Drug Classifications | Villanova

Analgesics - Pain Killers Barbiturates - A central nervous system depressant. e.g. phenobarbital largely replaced by benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepine - Minor tranquilizers. benzodiazepine diazepam (Valium) Opiates - Opiates are alkaloid compounds naturally found in the opium poppy plant Morphine, codeine, and thebaine. Opioids - A more modern term for Opiates Narcotics - Addictive drugs that reduce the user's perception of pain and induce euphoria (a feeling of exaggerated and unrealistic well-being) Natural derivatives of opium: morphine and codeine Partially synthetic drugs from morphine: oxycodone (OxyContin), Dilaudid), Numorphan Synthetic compounds that resemble morphine. Fentanyl (Duragesic) levorphanol (Levo-Dromoran), meperidine (Demerol), methadone, and propoxyphene (Darvon). Vicodin contains an opioid pain reliever (hydrocodone) and acetaminophen Can be swallowed, smoked, sniffed, or injected See The Big List of Narcotic Drugs | American Addiction Centers Terminology: Acetaminophen (Tylenol) ADHD - Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder AHFS - American Hospital Formulary Service® ANDA Number - Abbreviated New Drug Application ATC code - Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical Classification System Blood Thinners CAS Number - Chemical Abstracts Service Number ECHA - European Chemicals Agency - EPC - Established Pharmacologic Class GABA - Gamma-Aminobutyric acid a depressant. GAD - generalized anxiety disorder HF - Heart Failure IMS - Intercontinental Marketing Services - Now known as QuintilesIMS.com. MDMA - 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine, commonly known as ecstasy MeSH - Medical Subject Headings MEPS - Medical Expenditure Panel Survey MI - Myocardial Infarction NLM - U.S. National Library of Medicine NDAIS - Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs Aspirin, naproxen (Aleve), and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) are examples of OTC NSAIDs. SCA - Sudden Cardiac Arrest Therapeutic Index (TI) (also referred to as therapeutic ratio) The ratio of amount of a therapeutic agent that causes the therapeutic effect to the amount that causes toxicity. Illegal & Addictive Drugs
See also Drugs@FDA Glossary of Terms
Prescription Prices, Coupons & Pharmacy Information - GoodRx

Medicare Part D:
I found that the co-pay for one blood thinner ranged from less than $30 at one provider to over $300 at another.

Supplements - Vitamins & Minerals
Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)
Pain Medications
Information on Meds A-Z | Lifescript.com
Addiction Treatment | Addiction Group
America's Love Affair With Prescription Medication - Consumer Reports Aug, 2017
Pain relievers - Analgesics
Heart Medications
Blood Thinners
Anxiety and Depression Drugs
Sleep Aids
Counterfeit Drugs
Dangerous Drugs and Products | Recall Report
The PubChem Project - NIH.gov
The Top 8 Heart Meds: Risks Vs. Benefits - MedShadow
The 12 most Dangerous Prescription Drugs...| life-sources.com
Food, Drinks and over the counter medications and supplements That Can Affect Your Medication | WebMD
Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality | AHRQ.gov
Illegal & Addictive Drugs

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last updated 23 July 2017