Total spending on prescription drugs declined last year as more Americans filled prescriptions for lower-cost generics and some filled fewer prescriptions in general, according to a new study.
The annual study conducted by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics (PDF) found that both the utilization and cost of medicines declined last year.
The report cites declining use of branded drugs, availability of generics, lower levels of price increases and reduced spending on new drugs as reasons that total spending on medicines on a per capita basis fell 3.5%. Total spending fell to $325.8 billion in 2012, down 1% compared with $329.2 billion in 2011.
The authors went on to say that the slowdown in drug spending may indicate two things: appropriate disease management and the possibility that patients are self-rationing their treatments.
“The cost curve for medicines was clearly bent in 2012, for better or for worse,” Murray Aitken, executive director of the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics, said in a news release (PDF). “To some extent, this is a harbinger of more efficient use of our healthcare resources, but it also reflects a decline in utilization that may be the result of undertreatment and an imbalance between prevention and care.”