U.S. prescription drug spending showing little growth

June 25, 2012

Spending on prescription drugs in the United States was $320 billion in 2011, an increase of just 0.5% compare with 2010 after adjusting for inflation and population growth.

Spending on prescription drugs in the United States was $320 billion in 2011, an increase of just 0.5% compared with 2010 after adjusting for inflation and population growth, according to the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics. The volume of prescriptions filled fell about 1%. Researchers attribute the negligible increase to patients reducing their use of medicine and their greater use of cheaper generics.

Since the start of the recession in 2008, spending on prescription drugs has changed only slightly each year except in 2009, when it grew by 5.1%. IMS said it appears that patients are still visiting the doctor less often and filling fewer prescriptions.

"The implications of fewer doctor visits and lower drug utilization on patients' health have yet to play out and require further study," says Michael Kleinrock, director of research development for IMS.