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PMPRB releases CompassRx Annual Public Drug Plan Expenditure Report (2020/21)

Authored byKatie Lee

On January 31, 2023, the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board (PMPRB) announced the latest edition of CompassRx, an annual report which contains information on factors driving prescription drug expenditures in Canadian public drug plans. The eighth edition covers the 2020-2021 fiscal year.

The main data source for the report is the National Prescription Drug Utilization Information System (NPDUIS) Database which houses pan-Canadian information on public drug programs, including claims level data. Results are presented for public drug plans from all provinces (excluding Quebec), Yukon and the Non-Insured Health Benefits Program, which account for approximately one-third of total annual spending on prescription drugs in Canada.

The report covers:

  1. Trends in prescription drug expenditures, 2015/16 to 2020/21;
  2. Drivers of drug costs, 2019/20 to 2020/21; and
  3. Drivers of dispensing costs, 2019/20 to 2020/21.

A summary of the key findings includes:

  • The total annual spending in the 2020-2021 fiscal year was $12.3 billion, an increase of 4.2% from the previous year;
  • Growth in cost was primarily driven by increased use of high-cost drugs (defined as having an annual treatment cost greater than $10,000) combined with an increase in the volume of these drugs per patient; and
  • High-cost drugs used in 2.5% of beneficiaries accounted for greater than 1/3 of costs.
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