The cholesterol-lowering statin Crestor (rosuvastatin) was the most prescribed drug in the United States during a 12-month period with 23.7 million prescriptions, according to a new report from research firm IMS Health.
The report looked at the top 100 selling drugs in the U.S. based on prescriptions and sales during a 12-month period ending last September 2013. The only other statins to make the list include Zetia (ezetimibe) which ranked 19th on the list, and Lipitor (atorvastatin), which ranked 73rd.
Lipitor may have ranked low but it is still the best selling drug in the history of pharmaceuticals with more than $125 billion in sales in a 14.5-year period. When the drug was launched in 1997, it became the fifth statin medication on the market. Efficacy data showed how powerful the drug was at lowering cholesterol levels and before long it became a best-seller. However, Lipitor began to lose its ranking in 2012, when its first generic rival entered the market.
Sales for Lipitor continue to decline and some of that may be due to recent studies that show the drug can increase blood sugar levels, which can increase the risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Postmenopausal women are at greater risk, especially those who are not overweight.
Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that almost always requires medication to keep blood sugar levels in check. Uncontrolled diabetes increases the risk for cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, blindness, amputations from neuropathy, and dementia.