A Government Accountability Office report released on Thursday found that U.S. prescription drug spending has more than tripled since 2001.
U.S. prescription drug spending totaled $307 billion in 2010 and accounted for 12% of U.S. health care costs, according to the GAO. That cost growth slowed in the early 2000s as more major generic drugs—which cost on average 75% less than their brand name equivalent—reached the market. By 2010, generic drugs were used in place of brand name drugs 93% of the time.
However, the report found that studies on cost savings from generic drugs produced "mixed results regarding the effect of using these generics, in that some found they raised health care costs, while others found they led to cost savings" (Walker, MedPage Today, 3/2).