OTTAWA, Ontario — Last year, $29.3 billion was spent on prescription drugs in Canada, but the annual growth rate was the second-lowest in more than 20 years, according to a new report by the Canadian Institute for Health Information released earlier this month.
This slower growth in spending — 2.3% in 2013 — was due to increased use of less-expensive generic drugs and related pricing policies. In total, prescription drugs accounted for 85% of the $34.5 billion that was spent on all drugs last year.
Generic drugs account for the majority of use but less than half of spending in public drug programs. In 2012, they made up 72.4% of claims but only 38.8% of spending.
Use of generics is increasing because several of the most commonly prescribed drugs are now available in generic form.
The report also found that the majority of public drug spending is for a small number of high-cost individuals. More than 60% of public drug money is used for 12% of Canadians, each of whom has $2,500-plus worth of prescription drugs paid for by public programs.