The annual Top 200 Drugs is a list that takes advantage of Pareto’s Principle, that 80% of effects come from 20% of causes. The Top 200 drugs as the 20% represents the 80% of prescriptions that are actually filled. While the actual percentages deviate from that 80/20, the principle holds. However, the Top 200 Drugs list presents a problem for students and educators. What order should a student learn them in? If one tries to learn them in the order they appear, this makes it very difficult as drugs in similar classes often sit on different areas of the table. If one tries to learn them alphabetically, this only helps with those drug classes that have a similar prefix, like the cephalosporins cefepime and cefuroxime.

However, by classifying them in an order of pathophysiologic classifications, it becomes much easier to learn them. In my 2 audiobooks Memorizing Pharmacology: A Relaxed Approach and How to Pronounce Drug Names: A Visual Approach to Preventing Medication Errors, I take advantage of this third approach making further groupings to help with serial memorization – memorizing drug lists in a specific order. Below, I have ordered the Top 200 Drugs as listed on the ClinCalc.com website first in 7 main groupings of Gastrointestinal, Musculoskeletal, Respiratory, Immune, Neuro, Cardio, Endocrine. I use the GMRINCE, GrandMothers RINCE kids hair (the French spelling of rinse) as a way to remember this broad order of gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal, etc.

Within the large groups I classify drugs by their mechanism of action starting with H2-blockers (ending with –tidine), then proton pump inhibitors (ending with –prazole) and so on, alphabetizing the drugs within a class with the same stem to give a way to readily memorize these 200 drugs. Both audiobooks go into greater detail on mnemonics and rationale for this system.

 

 

The TOP 200 LIST

 

Gastrointestinal
1 Famotidine
2 Ranitidine
3 Esomeprazole
4 Lansoprazole
5 Omeprazole
6 Pantoprazole Sodium
7 Docusate
8 Ondansetron
9 Promethazine Hydrochloride
10 Mesalamine
Musculoskeletal
11 Aspirin
12 Diclofenac
13 Ibuprofen
14 Naproxen
15 Meloxicam
16 Celecoxib
17 Acetaminophen
18 Morphine
19 Hydrocodone Bitartrate/Acetaminophen
20 Oxycodone
21 Tramadol Hydrochloride
22 Sumatriptan
23 Alendronate Sodium
24 Baclofen
25 Carisoprodol
26 Cyclobenzaprine Hydrochloride
27 Methocarbamol
28 Tizanidine
29 Allopurinol
Respiratory (also some allergy/topical)
30 Diphenhydramine Hydrochloride
31 Hydroxyzine
32 Cetirizine Hydrochloride
33 Levocetirizine Dihydrochloride
34 Loratadine
35 Beclomethasone
36 Budesonide
37 Fluticasone
38 Mometasone
39 Triamcinolone
40 Guaifenesin
41 Benzonatate
42 Clobetasol Propionate
43 Hydrocortisone
44 Methylprednisolone
45 Prednisolone
46 Prednisone
47 Budesonide; Formoterol
48 Fluticasone Propionate/Salmeterol Xinafoate
49 Albuterol
50 Albuterol Sulfate; Ipratropium Bromide
51 Ipratropium
52 Tiotropium
53 Montelukast
Immune
54 Amoxicillin
55 Penicillin V
56 Amoxicillin/Clavulanate Potassium
57 Cephalexin
58 Doxycycline
59 Azithromycin
60 Clindamycin
61 Sulfamethoxazole; Trimethoprim
62 Ciprofloxacin
63 Levofloxacin
64 Fluconazole
65 Nystatin
66 Acyclovir
67 Valacyclovir
68 Hydroxychloroquine Sulfate
Neuro
69 Meclizine Hydrochloride
70 Zolpidem Tartrate
71 Trazodone Hydrochloride
72 Citalopram
73 Escitalopram Oxalate
74 Fluoxetine Hydrochloride
75 Paroxetine
76 Sertraline Hydrochloride
77 Duloxetine
78 Desvenlafaxine
79 Venlafaxine Hydrochloride
80 Amitriptyline
81 Nortriptyline Hydrochloride
82 Mirtazapine
83 Bupropion
84 Alprazolam
85 Clonazepam
86 Diazepam
87 Lorazepam
88 Temazepam
89 Buspirone Hydrochloride
90 Amphetamine
91 Dexmethylphenidate Hydrochloride
92 Lisdexamfetamine Dimesylate
93 Methylphenidate
94 Lithium
95 Aripiprazole
96 Risperidone
97 Quetiapine Fumarate
98 Divalproex Sodium
99 Phenytoin
100 Gabapentin
101 Lamotrigine
102 Levetiracetam
103 Oxcarbazepine
104 Pregabalin
105 Topiramate
106 Benztropine Mesylate
107 Ropinirole Hydrochloride
108 Donepezil Hydrochloride
109 Memantine Hydrochloride
Cardio
110 Omega-3-acid Ethyl Esters
111 Aspirin
112 Furosemide
113 Chlorthalidone
114 Hydrochlorothiazide
115 Hydrochlorothiazide; Triamterene
116 Spironolactone
117 Potassium
118 Doxazosin Mesylate
119 Terazosin
120 Clonidine
121 Propranolol Hydrochloride
122 Propranolol Hydrochloride/Hydrochlorothiazide
123 Atenolol
124 Atenolol; Chlorthalidone
125 Metoprolol
126 Carvedilol
127 Nebivolol Hydrochloride
128 Benazepril Hydrochloride
129 Enalapril Maleate
130 Lisinopril
131 Lisinopril; Hydrochlorothiazide
132 Quinapril
133 Ramipril
134 Losartan Potassium
135 Losartan Potassium/Hydrochlorothiazide
136 Olmesartan Medoxomil
137 Valsartan
138 Valsartan/Hydrochlorothiazide
139 Diltiazem Hydrochloride
140 Verapamil Hydrochloride
141 Amlodipine Besylate
142 Amlodipine Besylate/Benazepril Hydrochloride
143 Nifedipine
144 Hydralazine Hydrochloride
145 Isosorbide Mononitrate
146 Nitroglycerin
147 Atorvastatin
148 Lovastatin
149 Pravastatin Sodium
150 Rosuvastatin Calcium
151 Simvastatin
152 Fenofibrate
153 Gemfibrozil
154 Ezetimibe
155 Ezetimibe; Simvastatin
156 Warfarin
157 Dabigatran Etexilate Mesylate
158 Rivaroxaban
159 Clopidogrel Bisulfate
160 Digoxin
161 Amiodarone Hydrochloride
Endocrine
162 Metformin Hydrochloride
163 Metformin Hydrochloride/Sitagliptin Phosphate
164 Sitagliptin Phosphate
165 Glyburide
166 Glimepiride
167 Glipizide
168 Pioglitazone Hydrochloride
169 Liraglutide
170 Insulin Aspart
171 Insulin Lispro
172 Insulin Detemir
173 Insulin Glargine
174 Levothyroxine
175 Thyroid
176 Testosterone
177 Estradiol
178 Estrogens, Conjugated
179 Ethinyl Estradiol/Desogestrel
180 Ethinyl Estradiol/Drospirenone
181 Ethinyl Estradiol/Levonorgestrel
182 Ethinyl Estradiol/Norethindrone
183 Ethinyl Estradiol/Norgestimate
184 Oxybutynin
185 Tamsulosin Hydrochloride
186 Finasteride
187 Anastrozole
188 Phentermine
Eye drops
189 Brimonidine Tartrate
190 Latanoprost
191 Travoprost
Vitamin, Mineral, Electrolyte, Etc.
192 Calcium
193 Cholecalciferol/Alpha-Tocopherol
194 Cyanocobalamin
195 Ergocalciferol
196 Folic Acid
197 Magnesium
198 Sodium
199 Sodium Fluoride
200 Ferrous Sulfate

Dr. Kane’s original list from the ClinCalc website:

Rank Drug Name Total Prescriptions 2014
1 Lisinopril 115,508,573
2 Levothyroxine 99,992,248
3 Metformin Hydrochloride 86,125,658
4 Simvastatin 81,518,801
5 Atorvastatin 74,227,208
6 Metoprolol 72,320,918
7 Omeprazole 71,929,303
8 Acetaminophen/Hydrocodone Bitartrate 68,756,036
9 Amlodipine Besylate 63,722,510
10 Hydrochlorothiazide 50,428,398
11 Albuterol 48,189,599
12 Gabapentin 39,361,473
13 Sertraline Hydrochloride 37,723,879
14 Losartan Potassium 37,330,149
15 Furosemide 37,104,417
16 Azithromycin 31,988,786
17 Acetaminophen 31,926,190
18 Atenolol 30,837,679
19 Insulin Human 30,588,285
20 Fluticasone 30,573,156
21 Citalopram 29,737,921
22 Pravastatin Sodium 29,717,750
23 Alprazolam 28,897,888
24 Potassium 28,365,609
25 Amoxicillin 27,585,663
26 Tramadol Hydrochloride 25,809,738
27 Montelukast 25,670,394
28 Trazodone Hydrochloride 25,521,675
29 Bupropion 25,061,016
30 Rosuvastatin Calcium 24,760,853
31 Carvedilol 24,317,622
32 Prednisone 24,212,143
33 Ibuprofen 24,062,089
34 Fluoxetine Hydrochloride 23,867,188
35 Warfarin 23,420,139
36 Clopidogrel Bisulfate 23,271,222
37 Hydrochlorothiazide/Lisinopril 23,095,053
38 Pantoprazole Sodium 22,864,144
39 Zolpidem Tartrate 22,399,740
40 Meloxicam 21,630,829
41 Clonazepam 21,068,437
42 Glipizide 20,700,897
43 Cyclobenzaprine Hydrochloride 20,610,429
44 Insulin Glargine 20,384,788
45 Escitalopram Oxalate 19,639,202
46 Aspirin 18,251,902
47 Ethinyl Estradiol/Norgestimate 17,831,558
48 Venlafaxine Hydrochloride 17,385,388
49 Fluticasone Propionate/Salmeterol Xinafoate 16,419,775
50 Ranitidine 16,215,474
51 Fenofibrate 16,184,872
52 Tamsulosin Hydrochloride 16,068,805
53 Lorazepam 15,947,170
54 Amphetamine 15,905,051
55 Methylphenidate 15,505,256
56 Duloxetine 15,048,113
57 Paroxetine 15,020,665
58 Esomeprazole 14,963,819
59 Naproxen 14,371,092
60 Ethinyl Estradiol/Norethindrone 14,183,810
61 Hydrochlorothiazide/Losartan Potassium 14,028,830
62 Oxycodone 13,888,026
63 Allopurinol 13,714,793
64 Estradiol 13,220,499
65 Lovastatin 12,970,784
66 Glimepiride 12,859,036
67 Diltiazem Hydrochloride 12,853,214
68 Lamotrigine 12,705,157
69 Cetirizine Hydrochloride 12,369,433
70 Quetiapine Fumarate 11,456,968
71 Ergocalciferol 11,170,882
72 Clonidine 11,132,422
73 Pregabalin 11,069,546
74 Tiotropium 11,046,497
75 Hydrochlorothiazide/Triamterene 10,970,464
76 Loratadine 10,785,216
77 Amitriptyline 10,518,139
78 Folic Acid 10,404,775
79 Topiramate 10,284,071
80 Spironolactone 10,225,679
81 Insulin Aspart 10,220,895
82 Budesonide/Formoterol 10,150,634
83 Propranolol Hydrochloride 9,858,069
84 Ciprofloxacin 9,312,320
85 Diclofenac 9,162,791
86 Diazepam 9,134,522
87 Valsartan 8,880,976
88 Ezetimibe 8,782,265
89 Enalapril Maleate 8,768,774
90 Alendronate Sodium 8,459,284
91 Lisdexamfetamine Dimesylate 8,394,654
92 Cephalexin 7,886,065
93 Hydroxyzine 7,812,728
94 Latanoprost 7,594,870
95 Buspirone Hydrochloride 7,560,250
96 Desogestrel/Ethinyl Estradiol 7,537,023
97 Isosorbide Mononitrate 7,514,558
98 Ramipril 7,511,222
99 Ferrous Sulfate 7,422,924
100 Tizanidine 7,411,430
101 Benazepril Hydrochloride 7,389,230
102 Divalproex Sodium 7,299,035
103 Celecoxib 7,283,822
104 Finasteride 7,192,989
105 Morphine 7,172,178
106 Sitagliptin Phosphate 7,162,884
107 Oxybutynin 7,057,593
108 Donepezil Hydrochloride 7,003,989
109 Estrogens, Conjugated 6,938,375
110 Nifedipine 6,887,747
111 Docusate 6,797,829
112 Sulfamethoxazole/Trimethoprim 6,761,996
113 Amoxicillin/Clavulanate Potassium 6,733,526
114 Doxycycline 6,712,475
115 Mometasone 6,652,178
116 Mirtazapine 6,562,967
117 Ondansetron 6,548,132
118 Pioglitazone Hydrochloride 6,528,320
119 Aripiprazole 6,520,070
120 Verapamil Hydrochloride 6,473,461
121 Glyburide 6,365,008
122 Hydrochlorothiazide/Valsartan 6,148,007
123 Famotidine 6,091,332
124 Cyanocobalamin 6,035,870
125 Hydralazine Hydrochloride 5,946,943
126 Methocarbamol 5,908,995
127 Digoxin 5,860,786
128 Risperidone 5,798,068
129 Cholecalciferol/Alpha-Tocopherol 5,757,506
130 Levetiracetam 5,493,521
131 Hydroxychloroquine Sulfate 5,473,857
132 Amlodipine Besylate/Benazepril Hydrochloride 5,450,572
133 HCTZ/Propranolol Hydrochloride 5,401,115
134 Testosterone 5,336,442
135 Sumatriptan 5,309,154
136 Levofloxacin 5,163,786
137 Hydrocortisone 5,157,370
138 Insulin Lispro 5,016,277
139 Prednisolone 5,012,933
140 Omega-3-acid Ethyl Esters 5,004,832
141 Nebivolol Hydrochloride 4,961,230
142 Lansoprazole 4,895,439
143 Nitroglycerin 4,871,946
144 Temazepam 4,796,392
145 Insulin Detemir 4,772,951
146 Baclofen 4,764,197
147 Doxazosin Mesylate 4,676,441
148 Gemfibrozil 4,660,294
149 Terazosin 4,505,687
150 Promethazine Hydrochloride 4,463,067
151 Carisoprodol 4,459,908
152 Albuterol Sulfate/Ipratropium Bromide 4,445,835
153 Ropinirole Hydrochloride 4,438,220
154 Triamcinolone 4,419,530
155 Drospirenone/Ethinyl Estradiol 4,415,217
156 Phenytoin 4,310,313
157 Acyclovir 4,248,866
158 Atenolol/Chlorthalidone 4,181,880
159 Ethinyl Estradiol/Levonorgestrel 4,170,689
160 Oxcarbazepine 4,148,660
161 Benzonatate 4,140,925
162 Brimonidine Tartrate 4,112,850
163 Methylprednisolone 4,109,314
164 Meclizine Hydrochloride 4,088,295
165 Lithium 4,058,703
166 Benztropine Mesylate 4,023,387
167 Olmesartan Medoxomil 4,016,252
168 Sodium 3,985,912
169 Sodium Fluoride 3,977,009
170 Phentermine 3,942,606
171 Clindamycin 3,914,663
172 Fluconazole 3,834,200
173 Budesonide 3,808,496
174 Rivaroxaban 3,776,704
175 Clobetasol Propionate 3,749,794
176 Calcium 3,745,361
177 Travoprost 3,735,625
178 Amiodarone Hydrochloride 3,641,444
179 Nortriptyline Hydrochloride 3,621,356
180 Memantine Hydrochloride 3,618,231
181 Ezetimibe/Simvastatin 3,612,666
182 Penicillin V 3,577,360
183 Mesalamine 3,530,952
184 Magnesium 3,509,192
185 Guaifenesin 3,456,761
186 Levocetirizine Dihydrochloride 3,451,191
187 Thyroid 3,405,708
188 Dabigatran Etexilate Mesylate 3,374,192
189 Metformin HCl/Sitagliptin Phosphate 3,361,621
190 Beclomethasone 3,283,291
191 Quinapril 3,276,073
192 Valacyclovir 3,269,988
193 Ipratropium 3,256,722
194 Chlorthalidone 3,226,084
195 Liraglutide 3,212,290
196 Dexmethylphenidate Hydrochloride 3,194,849
197 Anastrozole 3,146,379
198 Diphenhydramine Hydrochloride 3,128,326
199 Nystatin 3,127,950
200 Desvenlafaxine 3,077,312

References

Kane S. “ClinCalc DrugStats Database.” ClinCalc DrugStats Database. Web. 17 Feb. 2017.

Kane S. “Introducing the ClinCalc DrugStats Database and the 2017 Top 200 Drugs.” ClinCalc. 17 Feb. 2017.

Guerra T. How to Pronounce Drug Names: A Visual Approach to Preventing Medication Errors. Ankeny, IA: Ankeny Healthcare Communications, LLC, 2016. Print.

Guerra T. Memorizing Pharmacology: A Relaxed Approach. Raleigh, NC: Lulu.com, 2016. Print.