Prescription Drugs

Consumer Drug Spending Declines

First time in nearly six decades


An explosion of cheap generic substitutes for widely used prescription drugs last year helped drive the first decline in pharmaceutical spending in the U.S. in nearly six decades.

Drug makers often lament what they call the patent cliff, which is when patent protections on their drugs expire and cheap substitutes come to market. For pharmaceutical companies, it cuts into sales and forces prices down.

But their loss is the consumer's gain, according to a report being released Thursday by a leading pharmaceutical research group.