According to Express Scripts Holding Co.‘s annual drug-trend report, spending on prescription drugs in the U.S. rose 2.7% in 2011, the smallest increase in nearly two decades. This decreased rate of increase was largely caused by an increased use of generic drugs. In 2011, for example, Pfizer’s cholesterol drug Lipitor lost U.S. market exclusivity. (In 2012, major drugs like the blood thinner Plavix also go off patent.) The weak economy has also caused patients to put off health-care visits.

WSJ article