High-cost drugs accounted for 41.6 per cent of patented medicine sales in 2017, up from 8.3 per cent a decade earlier, according to the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board’s latest annual report.
Federal Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor tabled the report, which also illustrated a rise in the sales of patented medicines in 2017. Sales jumped 7.6 per cent to $16.8 billion last year and accounted for 61.5 per cent of total drug sales in Canada.
In private drug plans, high-cost drugs, which the report classifies as those with an annual average treatment cost of at least $10,000, made up 26 per cent of the total cost share in 2017, compared to nine per cent in 2007.
As well, biologics made up a large percentage (42 per cent) of patented medicine sales in Canada in 2017, up from 16 per cent in 2008. “Although the increasing share of biologic medicine sales cuts across many therapeutic categories, immunosuppressants have had an exceptionally high uptake over the last decade, from four per cent of total patented medicine sales in 2008 to 17 per cent less than a decade later,” stated the report, which added the increase was mainly driven by three drugs: Remicade, Humira and Enbrel.
Oncology medicines made up 13.4 per cent of all patented medicine sales in 2017, up from 4.4. per cent in 2008, according to the report. “Cancer treatments taken orally, in particular, are an emerging segment, increasing their share of the patented medicine market from 1.9 per cent to 7.3 per cent during the same time period. Revlimid was the top-selling oncology medicine, accounting for two per cent of all patented medicine sales.”
The report also noted that factors causing an increase in sales of patented medicines include population increases, the aging population, increases in health problems, changes in prescribing practices and using new medicines to treat conditions for which there was no previous treatment.
Overall, the report found prices for patented medicines in Canada were lower than those found in Germany, Switzerland and the United States in 2017, but higher than those in Britain, France, Italy and Sweden.
As well, the annual average price of patented medicines was down 0.3 per cent in Canada last year. Prices also dropped in all but one of the seven comparator countries used by the Patented Medicines Prices Review Board, with Germany reporting the greatest decrease, at 0.4 per cent, while the U.S. was the only country to see an average price increase, at six per cent.
The report also found 80 new medicines for human use were reported to the board in 2017, totalling 1,391 overall.