The 10 most commonly used drugs in Australia

Peter Terlato 7 September 2016

Prescription drugs medication pharmacy bottle

Atorvastatin is the most frequently taken prescribed drug.

Pharmaceutical drugs used to combat high blood cholesterol levels, reduce stomach acid, treat pneumonia and stave off bacterial infections are among the most commonly prescribed and purchased medicines in Australia.

The Australian Government's Department of Health released its Australian Statistics on Medicines 2015 report, revealing the 10 most commonly used prescription medications.

Drugs were classified and ranked three different ways: by dosage, prescription counts and total cost (see below).

Atorvastatin, a cholesterol-lowering medication that blocks the production of fat, was the most frequently taken prescription drug in Australia in 2015.

This was followed by Perindopril, a long-acting ACE inhibitor used to treat high blood pressure, heart failure and stable coronary artery disease.

Considering prescription numbers, Atorvastatin remains in pole position with more than 10.5 million scripts issued in 2015.

Rosuvastatin, used to treat high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease and related conditions, totalled 9.4 million prescriptions last year, while proton-pump inhibitor esomeprazole yielded 8.8 million scripts.

In terms of total costs, Australians spent almost $330 million on adalimumab, a drug used to help reduce the signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

Esomeprazole pulled in $229 million, ranibizumab, which improves visual acuity, totalled $213 million, while cancer medication rituximab rounded out the top ten.

Growing older has its perks. As well as wisdom and perspective, you can also get some sweet pensioner discounts on prescription meds, among other things.

Are you planning on taking medication overseas? Find out everything you need to know about travelling with prescription drugs and how it impacts your travel insurance.

Top 10 drugs by defined daily dose 2015

DrugPBS/RPBSUnder co-paymentTotal
ATORVASTATIN52.6517.3469.99
PERINDOPRIL33.6415.3048.95
ROSUVASTATIN36.1311.2347.36
AMLODIPINE30.5410.8141.35
PARACETAMOL36.442.3638.80
IRBESARTAN26.2111.4137.63
CANDESARTAN22.8911.0433.93
RAMIPRIL20.749.7430.48
TELMISARTAN18.7410.8429.58
COLCHICINE17.8711.1729.03


Top 10 drugs by prescription counts 2015

DrugPBS/RPBSUnder co-paymentTotal
ATORVASTATIN7,634,6872,922,82510,557,512
ROSUVASTATIN6,667,6542,764,6789,432,332
ESOMEPRAZOLE7,184,1751,684,0908,868,265
PARACETAMOL7,003,988361,6437,365,631
PANTOPRAZOLE4,618,1711,738,7386,356,909
PERINDOPRIL4,005,5042,114,3376,119,841
AMOXYCILLIN2,377,3393,487,3195,864,658
CEFALEXIN2,851,4772,753,1135,604,590
METFORMIN HYDROCHLORIDE3,570,6131,585,2705,155,883
AMOXYCILLIN with CLAVULANIC ACID2,256,8292,810,3995,067,228


Top 10 drugs by total cost 2015

DrugDaily DoseScriptsTotal Cost
ADALIMUMAB0.60185,246329,711,021
ESOMEPRAZOLE24.857,184,175229,567,718
RANIBIZUMAB -137,201213,608,450
AFLIBERCEPT -132,792208,351,224
SALMETEROL and FLUTICASONE-3,081,584204,998,295
ROSUVASTATIN36.136,667,654202,920,536
ETANERCEPT0.3295,800168,593,840
PREGABALIN6.752,958,702161,937,157
INSULIN GLARGINE7.61359,843150,832,113
RITUXIMAB-45,996147,655,378
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