Greater use of generic drugs helped slow growth in outpatient prescription drug spending to 11.3% in the first quarter of 2003, down from 16.9% in the previous quarter, according to pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts, St. Louis. A mild flu season and lower sales of estrogen due to safety concerns also contributed to the slowdown, but those represent one-time events, Express Scripts said. Use of generics reduced total dollars spent on outpatient prescription drugs by 3.2% in the first quarter and by 2.1% for 2002. Express Scripts said 47% of all prescription claims it processed in the first quarter were for generics, compared with 43% in the year-ago period. The company, which serves 50 million consumers, also released its annual Drug Trend Report for 2002. Prescription drug spending increased 18.5% to $585.60 per member per year in 2002, up from $494.20 per member per year in 2001. The company forecasts a 15.5% increase in 2003. Read the report. -- by Cinda Becker
Generics slow growth in drug spending: report
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