Analysis of biological sales for OECD countries

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Data on biological sales for 2018 show that the US tops the list of Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries in terms of both per capita sales and share of sales. The data are provided by the Government of Canada in a May 2020 report and show that biologicals account for almost a third of total pharmaceutical sales in Canada.

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Information recently published by the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board (PMPRB) in Canada includes an analysis of biological medicine sales in 2018, including international comparisons.

The analysis included medicines in Schedule D of Health Canada’s Drug Product Database [1], or medicines considered a prescription biological within this database. All insulin biologicals were included, regardless of whether they require a prescription or not. Biologicals containing the same medicinal ingredients but sold elsewhere in the world were also included.

The report shows the per capita sales of biological medicines for OECD countries in 2018, a selection of which is shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Per capita sales of biological medicines, OECD, 2018

GW 4150G Fig 1 V20G03AZ

Source: IQVIA MIDAS Database, prescription retail and hospital markets, 2018

These data reveal that people in Canada spent an average of CA$208 per person on biologicals in 2018, which is CA$73 above the OECD median. This means Canada spends more on biologicals per capita than almost all other industrialized countries. The US is even further above this level, with an average per capita spending of CA$591.

In terms of the share of total pharmaceutical sales represented by biological drugs, the US again tops the chart at 32.3%, followed by Ireland and Belgium, both at 31.3%, see Figure 2. Canada has a share of just over 30%.

Figure 2: Biological medicine share of total pharmaceutical sales, OECD, 2018

GW 4150G Fig 2 V20G03AZ

Source: IQVIA MIDAS Database, prescription retail and hospital markets, 2018

Further analysis of average pricing shows that prices for originator biologicals are again highest in the US, followed by Switzerland, Germany and Canada, see Figure 3.

Figure 3: Average bilateral foreign-to-Canadian price ratios for originator biologicals, OECD, 2018

GW 4150G Fig 3 V20G09AZ.JPG

Source: IQVIA MIDAS Database, prescription retail and hospital markets, 2018

The average price of originator biologicals in Canada was the fourth highest of OECD member countries in 2018. The international median price was 16% lower than the Canadian level.

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1. Health Canada. Drug Product Database online query [homepage on the Internet]. [cited 2020 Jul 3]. Available from:

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Biosimilar infliximab uptake in Canada

Source: Government of Canada

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