ST. LOUIS (AP) — Prescription drug spending growth slowed last year, as the introduction of generic medicines helped balance price increases, according to pharmacy benefits manager Express Scripts Inc.

The St. Louis company said that spending increased 2.7 percent in 2011, the lowest growth recorded in 18 years of measuring the statistic. Express Scripts did not release a total dollar figure for the spending.

Top-selling drugs like Pfizer Inc.'s cholesterol fighter Lipitor and Eli Lilly and Co.'s antipsychotic Zyprexa lost U.S. patent protection last year, exposing the treatments to competition from cheaper generic medication.

Express Scripts also said the average co-payment, or what a customer pays at the drugstore for a prescription, fell slightly to $12.02 per prescription from $12.10 in 2010.

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