Vol. 1 No. 11 (2021)
Peer-Reviewed Article

Canadian Trends and Projections in Prescription Drug Purchases: 2001–2023

Published November 26, 2021

Key Messages

  • Limited data are available to understand costs and trends over time in the Canadian pharmaceutical market across all sectors. To fill this gap, a retrospective time series analysis of annual prescription drug purchases in Canada between 2001 and 2020 was conducted using data from the IQVIA Canadian Drugstore and Hospital Purchases Audit.
  • Spending has grown over the past 2 decades at a steady pace, with annual average growth of 5.3% and 7.1% in the retail and hospital sectors, respectively. Total prescription purchases in 2020 were approximately $32.7 billion, 4.3% higher than in 2019 (3.8% growth in retail, 6.9% in hospital).
  • New approvals of specialty and oncology drugs and generic formulations of the top 25 drugs may influence drug purchases in 2021 to 2023.
  • Overall drug purchases in Canada are projected to continue growing. The forecast for the outpatient sector is continued moderate levels of growth in drug spending (3% to 4%), with higher rates of growth (7% to 8%) in the hospital setting.
  • Action should be taken to curb sustained growth in pharmaceutical spending in Canada. Otherwise, these costs may be shifted to other budgets, private industry, and/or patients.