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Expensive new drugs, surge of cheap generics shift US spending on medicines by drug category

U.S. sales levels for many widely used drug categories shifted significantly in 2012, with sales in some classes declining sharply due to an infusion of cheaper new generic pills. Other categories grew, mainly with the introduction of new, generally expensive medicines.

Here’s a look at U.S. sales of the top-grossing drug categories in 2012:

DRUG CATEGORY 2012spendingChangefrom2011

Cancer medicines $25.9billionUp7.8percent

Mental illness $23.5billionDown21percent

Respiratory disorders $22.1billionUp1.9percent

Diabetes medicines $22billionUp7.1percent

Painkillers $18.2billionUp1.6percent

Cholesterol/lipid drugs $16.9billionDown20.6percent

Immune disorders $14.8billionUp17.9percent

High blood pressure $13.6billionDown3percent

HIV/AIDS medicines $11.7billionUp12.1percent

Attention deficit disorder $10.4billionUp13.1percent

Ulcer medicines $10billionDown4.7percent

Multiple sclerosis drugs $8.9billionUp17.8percent

Antibiotics $7.9billionDown14.8percent

Nervous system disorders $7.2billionup3.7percent

Vaccines $6.8billionUp7.2percent

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Source: IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics.