ST. LOUIS, March 5, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- For the first time in more than 20 years, there was a decrease in 2012 U.S. spending on traditional prescription drugs — primarily pills people take to treat more common diseases such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure — according to new data released today by Express Scripts (NASDAQ: ESRX). (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20080827/EXPRESSSCRIPTSLOGO) Among the country's commercially insured population, total spending on traditional prescription drugs fell 1.5 percent in 2012. However, this decline was offset by an 18.4 percent increase in spending on specialty medications to treat more complex diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, cancer and hepatitis C. Combined, total drug trend for the year was +2.7 percent, consistent with the rate of growth in 2011. The Express Scripts 2012 Drug Trend Report quantifies annual changes in utilization, unit costs and overall prescription drug spending, based on Express Scripts claims data. Now an online publication, the full report is available at www.DrugTrendReport.com. "The first-ever decrease in traditional drug spending is the latest chapter of an ongoing success story for our utilization management programs and for an increased interest in generic medications, home delivery pharmacy and more focused retail pharmacy networks," said Glen Stettin, MD, Express Scripts senior vice president of Clinical, Research & New Solutions. "These same principles of effective management solutions and increased drug competition are necessary to the country's effort to rein in specialty drug costs," Stettin said. "The plan sponsors who implement our specialty management programs are already seeing much lower growth in specialty drug costs than the national average. And increased drug competition, in the form of biosimilars, is necessary to offer more affordable medication for patients afflicted with these complex specialty conditions."