Generics still cost more in Canada, but prices decreasing

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A report issued in December 2014 by Canada’s Patented Medicine Prices Review Board (PMPRB) finds that the prices of generics in Canada have decreased significantly in recent years. However, Canadians are still paying more for their generics than patients in many other countries.

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The report compares the 2013 generic drug prices and markets in Canada with those of other industrialized countries. It also compares the data to previous research (PMPRB 2013), highlighting the changes in Canadian generics pricing that have taken place since 2011.

The analysis includes 487 generics – accounting for 79.1% of all Canadian generics manufacturer-level sales (CA$902.8 million) in the first quarter of 2013 – broken down by market segment and at the molecule level. Price comparisons were conducted using generics prices from the IMS AG’s MIDAS database and the average unit cost reimbursed by the Ontario Drug Benefit Program, as reported in the National Prescription Drug Utilization Information System, Canadian Institute for Health Information database.

For international multilateral comparisons the following seven countries were used: France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Switzerland, UK and US. Four other countries are also included in the bilateral price comparisons: Australia, New Zealand, The Netherlands and Spain.

The analysis found that Canadian manufacturer prices for generics have fallen markedly relative to their brand-name equivalents in recent years. Reductions in the relative price levels ranged from 56% of the brand-name price in the first quarter of 2011 to 39% in the first quarter of 2013. The more recent Ontario data, based on the second quarter of 2013, reveals an even larger difference, with generics prices at 31% of the brand-name drug price level.

The domestic price reductions that took effect prior to the second quarter of 2013 resulted in modest improvements in Canadian generics prices relative to international levels. In 2013, the mean international prices were 32% lower than in Canada, compared to in 2011 where they were 35% lower. However, when using the Ontario prices in the second quarter of 2013, the price differential was less pronounced, with mean international prices 25% lower than in Ontario.

The report concluded that generic drugs were typically less expensive in foreign markets than in Canada, with international prices being 25−32% lower on average. This is in line with previous findings, both from the PMPRB and other researchers [1].

Editor’s comment
Readers interested to learn more about how generics and biosimilars can help to reduce the healthcare budget are invited to visit to view the following manuscript published in GaBI Journal:

Reducing the European healthcare budget with generics and biosimilars

Readers interested in contributing a research or perspective paper to GaBI Journal – an independent, peer reviewed academic journal platform – please send us your submission here.

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1.   GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. Canada’s generics are too expensive []. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2015 Feb 6]. Available from: 

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Source: PMPRB

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