May 13—Total spending on U.S. medicines fell 3.5 percent on a real per capita basis in 2012, with one underlying driver being patent expirations and patients’ resulting switch to generic versions, according to a study by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics.

The study—published in the report Declining Medicine Use and Costs: For Better or Worse?—found that total dollars spent on medications in the United States totaled $325.8 billion last year, down from $329.2 billion in 2011, with real per capita spending of $898, down $33 from 2011. Patent expirations accounted for $28.9 billion (3.2 percent) of the reduction in prescription drug spending in 2012.

Lower levels of price increases, better disease management, and reduced spending on new medications also might have contributed to the decline, the report’s researchers said, but noted that it also could reflect a decline in utilization that may be the result of undertreatment and an imbalance between prevention and care.

Publication Date: Monday, May 13, 2013