Consumers trim prescription spend


State of economy and out-of-pocket health care costs are contributing factors to cutbacks.

The number of prescriptions processed by U.S. pharmacies in the U.S. is slipping, having approached its lowest rate in more than 10 years. The decline appears to be directly impacted by the current economy and out-of-pocket health care costs.

According to IMS Health and Wall Street analysts, the rate of prescription growth has declined consistently since the beginning of 2007. The latest data point to a drop in number of prescriptions in the second quarter. That apparently has not occurred since 1994, according to Lehman Brothers drug-industry analyst C. Anthony Butler.

IMS Health found prescription volume growth for January through May 2008 dipped to 1.5%, the lowest rate since 1996. Annual volume growth for 2003 to 2007 was approximately 3%.

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