Canadians are spending less on prescription drugs for the first time since the Second World War, according to the third edition of the Canadian Rx Atlas, but UBC health economists predict the break will be short lived.
Canadians spent almost $23 billion on prescription drugs in 2012–2013, or $650 per capita. After adjusting for inflation, however, drug spending has decreased by approximately 1%, despite the aging population.
Steve Morgan, a professor with the Centre for Health Services and Policy Research at UBC’s School of Population and Public Health, and the Rx Atlas’s lead author, analyzed drug spending data from 2007 to 2013 for this edition of the Rx Atlas and found that more than one-third of drugs being developed by the pharmaceutical industry are specialized (niche) drugs that will come to market at considerable cost. While not as widely used, specialty drugs are much more expensive.