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Some drugs that were previously available only with a prescription became over-the-counter in 2008, reducing total prescriptions. The biggest names were Zyrtec, an allergy medication, and the laxative Miralax. Drug use was essentially flat with 2008 if Zyrtec and Miralax are excluded, Medco said.
Prescriptions for people 19 and under grew faster than for any other age group. Medco said that was due to rising rates of diabetes among the young, and more prescriptions for attention deficit disorder and similar problems.
Several billion dollar-selling drugs took hits due to potential safety issues last year. Sales of the diabetes treatment Avandia fell after the Food and Drug Administration added new warnings to its labeling, pointing out concerns about heart problems. Sales of the cholesterol drug Vytorin fell after a study released in January showed it was no better than an older drug, Zocor, at reducing plaque buildup in neck arteries. Zocor is available in generic form for about 80 percent less.
Sales of Amgen's Aranesp and other drugs used to treat chemotherapy-induced anemia have been sliding for two years, since studies connected the drugs to the faster growth of some tumors. Medco said safety issues also affected sales of osteoporosis drugs and hormone replacement therapies, and product recalls hurt sales of migraine and cough and cold therapies.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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