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Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) and Patented Medicine Prices Review Board (PMPRB) report upward trend of high-cost drugs

Authored byKatie Lee

CIHI: On December 17, the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) published statistics1 on drug spending, finding that in 2018, around 40% of drug spending was spent on 2% of beneficiaries. Out of this 2%, three out of five individuals used a drug therapy that cost $10,000 or more per year (e.g. antivirals or biologics for rheumatoid arthritis/Crohn’s disease). The top increases in drug spending over the past 5 years were for drug classes with average annual costs of $10,000 or more. 

PMPRB Meds Entry Watch: In January 2020, the PMPRB released the Meds Entry Watch 2018, which analyzes information about medicines approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the European Medicines Agency (EMA), and/or Health Canada in 2017 and 2018.

Consistent with the CIHI report, one of the key findings is the continued upward trend in the entry of high-cost products (such as orphan drugs and oncology products), with nearly two thirds of the medicines approved internationally in 2017 having treatment costs over $10,000 per year, or $5,000 per 28-day cycle for oncology medicines.


1. Link to the original source is no longer available. See the 2019 report for more details. 

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