RARE DROP: Total U.S. spending on prescription medicines declined last year, a first in more than half a century. The dip was 1 percent, to $325.8 billion — a 3.5 percent drop after accounting for population growth and economic expansion, according to the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics.
THE FACTORS: Key reasons for the decline were cash-strapped consumers limiting health care use as their out-of-pocket costs rose and more use of cheap generic pills thanks to a surge of new copycat versions of huge sellers.
THE FUTURE: IMS is forecasting overall health care spending will keep growing faster than spending on medicines at least through 2017. That's due to the increasing number of elderly patients and those with very expensive chronic conditions such as diabetes, psychiatric disorders and various cancers.