Orphan drugs hit 42% of new pharmaceuticals in Canada in 2016

Orphan drugs represent a significant and growing share of new pharmaceutical entrants in Canada, according to a new report from the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board.

At 54 per cent of new pharmaceuticals entering the market in 2015 and 42 per cent in 2016, orphan drugs have seen a significant rise from an average of 33 per cent over the time period spanning 2009-14.

Between 2009 and 2015, Canada launched more new drugs than most other member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the report found. However, it still lagged behind other countries the board uses as comparators, including Britain, Sweden and the United States.

Read: Plan sponsors bracing for onset of new orphan drugs

Looking at costs, the report found 35 per cent of new pharmaceuticals in 2015 were oncology drugs costing more than $5,000 for a treatment schedule of 28 days. Another 30 per cent were non-oncology drugs costing more than $10,000 per year.

“In line with trends observed from 2009 to 2014, the study found that high-priced specialty drugs such as those used to treat rare diseases, biologic drugs and oncology drugs, continue to dominate the new drug landscape in 2015 and 2016, both in Canada and internationally,” the report noted.

It also found that prices for new drugs in Canada were similar to those in European markets but lower than in the United States.

Read: Canada second-highest spender on generic drugs among OECD countries: report