Global spending on pharmaceuticals is forecast to reach $1.5 trillion by 2021, a whopping 32 percent increase from expected spending this year. Even so, the year-on-year rate of increase is expected to be less than it has been in the recent past, when new, high-priced medicines for treating hepatitis C and some cancers prompted a huge uptick in demand.

Indeed, overall spending will rise nearly 1.5 times faster between 2017 and 2021 than between 2012 and 2016, growing by $367 billion compared with $148 billion. But spending is forecast to drop 9 percent in 2016 from the past two years, which represented nearly unprecedented spending growth, and reach anywhere from 4 percent to 7 percent, on a compounded annual basis, between now and 2021.

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