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The Associated Press April 17, 2012, 10:11AM ET

Express Scripts sees slower 'script spending rise

Prescription drug spending growth slowed last year, as the introduction of generic medicines helped balance price increases, according to pharmacy benefits manager Express Scripts Inc.

The St. Louis company said spending increased 2.7 percent in 2011, the lowest growth recorded in 18 years of measuring the statistic. Express Scripts did not release a total dollar figure for the spending.

Top-selling drugs like Pfizer Inc.'s cholesterol fighter Lipitor and Eli Lilly and Co.'s antipsychotic Zyprexa lost U.S. patent protection last year, exposing the treatments to competition from cheaper generic medication.

Express Scripts also said the average co-payment, or what a customer pays at the drugstore for a prescription, fell slightly to $12.02 per prescription from $12.10 in 2010.

The pharmacy benefits manager, or PBM, also found that diabetes treatments now make up the largest spending category for prescription drugs. Diabetes spending per member per year rose 7 percent to top cholesterol and high blood pressure or heart disease medicines.

Express Scripts runs prescription drug plans for employers, government agencies and other clients. It based its spending report on data it collects while processing about 750 million prescriptions annually.

The numbers do not include information from Medco Health Solutions Inc., another pharmacy benefits manager Express Scripts acquired in a $29.1 billion deal that closed earlier this month.

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