TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -- Spending on prescription medicines in the U.S. fell for the first time in more than five decades last year.
A new report from the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics states the total spent was down 3.5 percent to $325.8 billion last year.
That's partly because patients benefited from a surge of new, inexpensive generic versions of widely used drugs for chronic conditions, such as Lipitor for high cholesterol.
But there's a downside: Another reason for the decline was that cash-strapped consumers continued to cut back on or delay needed doctor visits, medicines and other treatments. Some waited to seek care until they were very sick, leading to a jump in patients admitted to hospitals after coming to the emergency department.
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