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Public drug plan spending on the rise

By The IJ Staff | September 09 2019 11:30AM

A new report by the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board (PMPRB) reveals that prescription drug expenditures by Canadian public drug plans rose by two billion dollars over a three-year period.

In 2017-2018, expenditures grew by 7.4% to reach $11.4 billion in 2017-18. Drug costs were up by 8.3% over the previous fiscal year.

The PMPRB says that spending growth was mainly driven by “an increased use of higher-cost drugs, renewed pressure from direct-acting antiviral (DAA) drugs for hepatitis C, and changes to plan designs, with limited savings from generic and biosimilar substitution.”

These findings were released in the fifth edition of CompassRx, an annual report published under the National Prescription Drug Utilization Information System (NPDUIS) research initiative.

The report found that drugs with an annual treatment cost over $10,000 made up more than 30% of the overall drug costs for the NPDUIS public drug plans in 2017-18. These drugs were used by less than two per cent of plan beneficiaries.

The study includes all provincial public drug plans (with the exception of Quebec), as well as Yukon and the Non-Insured Health Benefits Program. These plans account for approximately one third of the total annual spending on prescription drugs in Canada.

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