U.S. drug spending up 8.5 percent in 2015

U.S. spending on prescription drugs rose 8.5 percent last year, slightly less than in 2014, driven mainly by growing use of ultra-expensive new drugs and price hikes on other medicines.

A report from data firm IMS Health estimates patients, insurers, government programs and other payers spent a combined $309.5 billion last year on prescription medicines.

According to the report, prescription drug spending continues to grow due to a number of factors including rising prices, fewer blockbuster drugs getting new generic competition and a 10 percent jump last year in the number of prescriptions filled, to nearly 4.4 billion.

Still, the 2015 spending increase of 8.5 percent was down from the 10.5 percent jump in 2014.

“For all the headlines, drug spending growth has moderated in 2015,” Murray Aitken, the institute’s executive director, said.

The report comes amid growing criticism of unaffordable drug prices from patients, doctors, insurers, Congress and presidential candidates, who have pledged to rein in the price of prescriptions.

Read more: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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