2015 Drug Ratings Roundup: the Best, Worst, Most Reviewed, Most Researched, and Most Advertised Meds

We compiled the following lists from the AskaPatient database, then searched the year's news reports for stories or press releases for the drugs that made the list. AskaPatient average ratings are presented next to each drug name.

A “5” is the highest rating (the medicine helped the patient a great deal), while a “1” is the lowest (the patient wouldn’t recommend the treatment). 

"The Best"

Top Rated Drugs of 2015: (based on ratings received in 2015)

#1 Robinul (hyperhydrosis or dry mouth):  4.3 (average rating in 2015)
The brand-name drug was not in the news last year, but a generic version, GLYCOPYRROLATE, was sold to Rising Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of ACETO Corporation.
Global Newswire report: ACETO Subsidiary Rising Pharmaceuticals Acquires Three FDA-Approved ANDAs from Endo International PLC.

#2 Chantix (quit smoking) 4.3
Chantix in the 2015 news:
Chantix could affect patients’ alcohol tolerance, possibly leading to seizures. http://ow.ly/WtfbS
Chantix helps people who aren’t ready to quit smoking yet cut down before making the attempt to quit. http://ow.ly/Wtfq4

#3 Xanax (anxiety)  4.2
Xanax in the 2015 news:
Xanax is a great short-term tool to control anxiety, but can easily become addictive if taken too long. http://ow.ly/WtgKS
Should Xanax be considered a recreational drug? The number of people taking and sharing it has spiked enormously. http://ow.ly/Wtho1


"The Worst"

Worst Rated Drugs of 2015 (based on ratings received in 2015)

#1 Reglan (acid reflux or nausea) 1.16 (average rating in 2015)
Reglan in the 2015 news:
Many lawsuits have been filed, leading to class action lawsuits for claims that Reglan caused patients to experience neurological disorders.

#2 Prolia (osteoporosis) 1.20
Prolia in the 2015 news:
Amgen sponsored studies that show long-term “consistency” of adverse events for post-menopausal women taking Prolia.

#3 Boniva (osteoporosis) 1.22
Boniva in the 2015 news:
Low stress femur fractures have been noted as a possible risk of Boniva for years, but many doctors may not have heard yet.  A law case review site:  http://ow.ly/WtjD7


"Bisphosphonate use drops after media reports of safety concerns" (June 18, 2015)
The article presents a summary of research from this publication:Jha S, et al. J Bone Miner Res. 2015;doi:10.1002/jbmr.2565.

"The Most Reviews"

Most Reviewed Drugs on AskaPatient in 2015

#1 Flagyl (diverticulitis and other infections) 2.5 (overall average rating)
Flagyl in the 2015 news:
Taking medicine like Flagyl and alcohol together can cause life-threatening reactions.

#2 Flonase (allergies) 2.2
Flonase in the 2015 news:
Allergy drug Flonase went over-the-counter early in 2015 and generated over $100 million in its first 16 weeks on the shelves.

#3 Tamiflu (flu) 2.3
Tamiflu in the 2015 news:
 A meta-analysis of many studies revealed that, on average, Tamiflu reduces flu symptoms by about a day. http://ow.ly/WtlCZ
Two generic drug companies wanting to make and market a generic version of Tamiflu, oseltamivir phosphate, settled a patent infringement lawsuit with Gilead Sciences.


“The Most Researched”

Top Drugs of Interest in 2015 based on AskaPatient page views

#1 Cymbalta (antidepressant) 2.8 (overall average rating)
Cymbalta in the 2015 news:
Eli Lilly faced lawsuits with allegations that it did not warn patients about severe withdrawal side effects such as “brain zaps.”
#2 Wellbutrin (antidepressant) 3.4
#3 Flonase (allergies) 2.2


“The Most Advertised”

If you watch television even a little, odds are that this year you have encountered a TV advertisement for one or more of the drugs on the list below. Pharmaceutical advertising increased by 18% in 2015 over 2014, with $5.6 billion spent primarily on  television and magazine ads.  In 2014, the spending increased 21% over spending in 2013.
The sponsors are getting their message out, and more prescriptions for those drugs are being written (at least in the U.S., one of only two countries in the world where direct-to-consumer advertising is legal).
But do these heavily advertised drugs pass muster with the patients once they have actually taken them?  Often, the answer is no.

Ratings Scores for the Top 10 Most Advertised Drugs

 (top 10 based on 2014 list from Nielsen Data)

#1 Cialis  (erectile dysfunction)  3.2
#2 Eliquis (stroke prevention) 1.8 (only 7 ratings)
#3 Viagra (erectile dysfunction)  3.8
#4 Lyrica (marketed for both fibromylagia and diabetes)  2.7
#5 Humira (arthritis) 3.2
#6 Latuda (depression) 2.8
#7 Xeljanz (arthritis) 4.0 (only 4 ratings)
#8 Celebrex (arthritis) 2.8
#9 Abilify (depression/psychosis) 2.7
#10 Chantix (quit smoking) 3.5

Related story:
The American Medical Association recently called for a ban on direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs.  If it happens, how will that affect a company like Pfizer, who markets four of the ten most advertised drugs? Check out this Motley Fool analysis:

-by Katie Rowley with news compiled and edited by Thomas Williams.