BROOKLYN - ? According to some residents, the faltering economy has forced them to tighten their purse strings on their prescription medications.

People like Veronica Clough-Panta have been forced to choose between their necessary expenditures and place their health, and the health of their family members, on the back burner.

"Mortgage comes first, food on the table second, and the doctor and prescriptions come third," Panta says.

But pharmacists, like Ray Macioci, say there are ways to save money on prescription drugs, such as asking for generics instead of name brands or talking to doctors about alternative, less expensive medicines that can be prescribed for the same condition.

Macioci also encourages people to put their health first, even in times of economic crisis.

According to recent research, this is the first decline in purchase and consumption of prescription medications after more than a decade of steady increases.