The latest updates on prescription drugs and ways to save from the GoodRx medical team

10 Most Common Drug Combinations

by Tori Marsh on November 7, 2017 at 3:26 pm

Did you know that nearly 7 in 10 Americans take a prescription drug, and about 50% of Americans take at least two? In many cases, taking more than one drug is necessary to cure an ailment, treat symptoms, or control a chronic disease. But in others, multiple drugs may not mix well in your body, and in your pocketbook.

We’ve compiled a list of drugs commonly taken together. We’ll tell you more about why these drugs are taken together, and which ones work. But are all of these combinations safe?

Top 10 Two Drug Combinations
Rank Drugs What is it for?
1 lisinopril
atorvastatin
Heart disease
2 lisinopril
metformin
Heart disease & diabetes
3 amlodipine
lisinopril
Heart disease
4 alprazolam
amphetamine salt combo
ADHD & anxiety
5 amphetamine salt combo
amphetamine salt combo xr
ADHD
6 hydrocodone/acetaminophen
alprazolam
Pain & anxiety
7 amlodipine
atorvastatin
Heart disease
8 lisinopril
hydrochlorothiazide
Heart disease
9 atorvastatin
clopidogrel
Heart disease
10 atorvastatin
metformin
Heart disease & diabetes

 

Top 10 Three Drug Combinations
Rank Drugs What is it for?
1   metformin
lisinopril
atorvastatin
Heart disease & diabetes
2 clopidogrel
atorvastatin
lisinopril
Heart disease
3 glipizide
metformin
lisinopril
Heart disease & diabetes
4 atorvastatin
amlodipine
lisinopril
Heart disease
5 amlodipine
hydrochlorothiazide
lisinopril
Heart disease
6 carvedilol
atorvastatin
lisinopril
Heart disease
7 atorvastatin
metoprolol
lisinopril
Heart disease
8 clopidogrel
metoprolol
atorvastatin
Heart disease
9 lisinopril
carvedilol
furosemide
Heart disease
10 amlodipine
metformin
lisinopril
Heart disease and diabetes


What’s going on in this table?

We compiled a representative sample of nationwide U.S. prescription drug claims to see common drug combinations. Here are some patterns we found interesting.

  • Heart disease medications dominate the list. In many cases, certain heart medications may be taken together to increase effectiveness, or treat different symptoms. Most people with a heart condition will likely take any combination of an ace inhibitor (lisinopril), a beta blocker (metoprolol) a diuretic (furosemide) or a statin (atorvastatin). Heart disease is currently the leading cause of death for men and women in the US, so it makes sense that these medications overtake the list.
  • Heart medications and diabetes medications are a common combination. Over time, high blood sugar from diabetes can damage the blood vessels and heart, increasing your chances for heart disease. In many cases, people with diabetes will be prescribed metformin along with a heart medication like lisinopril or atorvastatin to reduce the risk for heart complications.

Dangerous combinations.

It’s hard to imagine that people would be prescribed drugs that have dangerous interactions. Unfortunately, it’s more common than you think. Most dangerous combinations happen when two different doctors prescribe two different medications and are unaware of the other prescription. In order to avoid taking drugs that may interact, make sure you discuss any medication you are on with every doctor you see.  

  • Alprazolamamphetamine salt combo. This is a common combination as alprazolam, a common anxiety medication, can help combat the restlessness and insomnia that people typically feel after taking an amphetamine. While the combination isn’t necessarily dangerous, alprazolam should not be taken on a regular basis. One way to combat the restlessness and insomnia? Try taking a long-acting stimulant, like amphetamine salt combo XR, instead. Longer-acting amphetamines tend to have more constant delivery and can have negative side effects.
  • Lisinopril & metformin. Most people with diabetes are treated with metformin, and an ace inhibitor, like lisinopril. In most cases, there are few interactions between the two. However, lisinopril can increase the effects of metformin, and cause blood sugar to dip too low. If you are taking both of these medications and consistently experience signs of low blood sugar, be sure to speak with your doctorthis combo could be the culprit.  

What’s the good news?

Although some drug combinations can be dangerous, there are some combinations that work very well together, with few side effects or interactions.

  • Atorvastatin & lisinopril. The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists and American Diabetes Association recommend that all diabetics with a blood pressure greater than 140/90 be on a statin (atorvastatin, simvastatin, rosuvastatin, etc) and an ace inhibitor (lisinopril, benazepril, etc).
  • Amphetamine salt combo & amphetamine salt combo XR. It might seem odd that people fill for both the short (amphetamine salt combo) and long (amphetamine salt combo XR) version. However, it’s quite common. Most people who fill for this combination use the short-acting amphetamine like a booster—taken only if they feel the long-acting amphetamine is wearing off. If taken responsibly, there are no interactions between the two.
  • Most heart medications. There are many types of heart medications on this listace inhibitors, statins, diuretics, and beta blockers—all treating some component or symptom of heart disease. But do they work well together, and can you take them long term? If taken appropriately, yes.  

Are there ways to save?

Believe it or not, in some cases, you can save by taking fewer drugs, or switching to a less expensive alternative. These common combinations have less expensive alternatives you might want to discuss with your doctor.  

  • Lisinopril & hydrochlorothiazide. This combination is good for high blood pressure/hypertension, and are both first-line therapies. However, there they come in a combination pill–Zestoretic (lisinopril/hctz)–that is more affordable, and more convenient, than taking two separate medications.
  • Amlodipine & lisinopril. Both of these medications tend to work well together to control blood pressure. However, if you currently take these together, you have another option that can help save you time and money! Lotrel (amlodipine/benazepril) is a combination calcium channel blocker/ace inhibitor that works just like amlodipine and lisinopril, in just one pill!

Information on drug interactions and savings tips come from Dr. Sharon Orrange, MD MPH, a contributor on the GoodRx Medical Team. Data comes from several sources, including pharmacy data and insurer data, and provides a representative sample of nationwide US prescription drug claims.


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