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Americans cutting back on drugs and doctor visits

The New York Times, April 5, 2012

Patients cut back on prescription drugs and doctor visits last year, a sign that many Americans are still struggling to pay for healthcare, according to a study released Wednesday. The report, issued by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics, said 2011 was also a breakthrough year for the drug industry, which introduced 34 new medicines, the most in a decade. The number of prescriptions issued to patients declined by 1.1 percent compared with 2010, and visits to the doctor fell by 4.7 percent, the report said. Visits to the emergency room, by contrast, increased by 7.4 percent in 2011, an increase that the report's authors said was linked to the loss of health insurance resulting from long-term unemployment.