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In a significant shift, total spending on medicines in the US rose by 5.8 percent, to $450 billion, in 2016, which was less than half the rate seen in the last two years. In 2015, for instance, drug spending climbed 8.9 percent and it had rocketed up by 12 percent the year before.

However, when subtracting rebates and discounts that drug makers pay insurers, net spending was $323 billion, a 4.8 increase over 2015, according to a new report from the Quintiles/IMS Institute. The increase in total spending last year, which amounted to $27.3 billion on an invoice price basis and $14.8 billion on a net basis, was largely driven by new brands and patent-protected brands.

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