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Fewer patients are visiting the doctor's office and some are staying away from prescriptions because of the bad economy, according to a survey by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics.

Fewer patients are visiting the doctor's office and some are staying away from prescriptions because of the bad economy, according to a survey by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics.

But those aren't the only things patients cutting back. More patients are asking for inexpensive alternatives, according to amednews.com, as they struggle with high co-payments, deductibles and other financial issues stemming from the bad economy.

Visits to doctor offices dropped 4.7 percent in 2011, the fourth drop in five years, following the 4.2 percent drop in 2010, according to the IMS survey. Retail pharmacy prescription spending dropped 1.1 percent in 2011.

"The end of the recession has not delivered recovery to many people," Michael Kleinrock, IMS director of research development and primary author of "The Use of Medicines in the United States: Review of 2011," told amednews.com. "Patients are spreading out repeat visits and self-medicating with over-the-counter drugs."

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