Healthcare Insights

Top 20 outpatient prescription medications

Medicines are an essential part of healthcare. They not only save lives and promote health but prevent diseases and epidemics, too. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about half of the U.S. population used a prescription drug in the past 30 days.  

For many patients, outpatient care plays an important role in accessing prescription drugs. Outpatient prescription drugs are typically those that may be obtained only by prescription and dispensed by pharmacies.  

We used Definitive Healthcare data to examine outpatient prescription drug trends, including the most prescribed drugs based on the percentage of claims in 2022 YTD. These drugs treat common illnesses and health conditions and reflect the health needs of U.S. patients. 

Top 20 outpatient drugs by percentage of claims in 2022 YTD

RankDrug name % of claims Explore dataset
1Atorvastatin calcium2.80%Explore
3Amlodipine besylate1.90%Explore
4Levothyroxine sodium1.70%Explore
7Losartan potassium1.40%Explore
8Metformin HCl1.40%Explore
9Sertraline HCl1.20%Explore
10Metoprolol succinate1.10%Explore
12Albuterol sulfate1.10%Explore
14Pantoprazole sodium1.00%Explore
16Escitalopram oxalate1.00%Explore
17Rosuvastatin calcium1.00%Explore
18Trazodone HCl0.90%Explore
20Montelukast sodium0.90%Explore

Fig. 1. Data from the Definitive Healthcare ClaimsRx product for 2022 YTD (through October). Claims data is sourced from multiple medical claims clearinghouses in the United States and updated monthly. Data accessed December 2022. 

What are the most common outpatient prescription drugs?  

According to our database, some of the most common outpatient prescription drugs were related to chronic conditions, like heart disease and diabetes, and infections. Based on percentage of claims, the top outpatient prescriptions were those used to treat high cholesterol and high blood pressure (hypertension).  

Many of the same drugs have remained in the top 20 spots for several years. All are generic drugs.  

Atorvastatin calcium was the most prescribed drug in 2022, with 2.8% of claims. Atorvastatin is a statin used to treat abnormal lipid levels and prevent cardiovascular disease. It blocks an enzyme that helps make cholesterol and causes an increase in the breakdown of cholesterol. Atorvastatin is the generic form of the brand-name medicine Lipitor. 

Lisinopril was the second most common drug, with 2.0% of claims. Lisinopril is an ACE inhibitor used to treat high blood pressure as well as heart failure when used in combination with other drugs. It’s also used to prevent kidney problems in patients with diabetes.   

Amlodipine besylate, a calcium channel blocker (CCB), ranked third on our list, with 1.9% of claims in 2022 YTD. Amlodipine is used to treat high blood pressure and certain types of chest pain (angina).  

Which conditions do the top prescription drugs treat?  

The top outpatient prescription medications treat some of the most common diseases in the U.S., such as heart disease and diabetes. Other commonly prescribed drugs treat:  

  • Asthma 

  • Bacterial infections 

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) 

  • High cholesterol 

  • High blood pressure 

  • Inflammatory conditions 

  • Pain 

  • Thyroid disease 

Learn more  

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