Canadian generic drug prices higher than international levels in recent years

News Release

The Patented Medicine Prices Review Board releases its latest report on generic drug pricing in Canada

February 6, 2018 — Ottawa, ON — Patented Medicine Prices Review Board

The Patented Medicine Prices Review Board (PMPRB), through the National Prescription Drug Utilization Information System (NPDUIS) research initiative, today published the most recent edition of the Generics360 report, which examines the latest trends in domestic and international generic drug pricing, sales and utilization.

The report found that Canada has a strong generics market with the third highest rate of generic drug use and the second highest per capita spending on generics among OECD countries in 2016.

In 2016, Canadians continued to pay more than most other OECD countries for generic drugs despite high generic drug use and the implementation of provincial and territorial policies that have greatly reduced generic prices in recent years. The findings demonstrated that Canadian public drug plans could have seen their 2016 costs reduced by nearly half a billion dollars if higher-priced top-selling generic drugs in Canada had been aligned with international levels.

This edition of Generics360 focuses on the last quarter of 2016 and examines 605 generic drugs which accounted for 82.3% of all Canadian generic sales. In comparing Canadian generic drug prices to prices in other countries, the report emphasizes the seven countries listed in the PMPRB’s regulations (“PMPRB7”) — France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States. Prices in select OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries were also looked at for further perspective on Canada’s position within the global market.

Quick Facts

  • Sales of generic drugs in Canada rose from $3.0B in 2006 to $5.5B in 2016; at a rate of growth similar to other industrialized countries.

  • Generic drugs accounted for 74% of the volume of drugs in the Canadian pharmaceutical market in 2016, the third highest among the OECD countries after the United States and Germany.

  • Canadians spent $165 per capita on generic drugs in 2016, the second highest among the OECD countries after the United States. 

  • Average generic drug prices in Canada declined to half of what they were a decade ago, more than in most other foreign countries, but have stabilized in recent years.

  • In the last quarter of 2016, generic drug prices in Canada were the seventh highest in the OECD.

  • Average generic drug prices in the PMPRB7 were 11% lower than in Canada and median prices were 30% lower. 

  • Between 2013 and 2016, the pCPA reduced the price of 18 of the most commonly used generic drugs to 18% of their brand-name price. While the prices of these drugs dropped by 66% over the last decade, their average foreign prices were still 14% lower, and median foreign prices were 34% lower, in the last quarter of 2016.

  • If public drug plans had paid median foreign prices for the higher-priced top-selling generic drugs in Canada in 2016, they could have saved nearly half a billion dollars, or over 5% of total drug costs, in fiscal year 2015-16.

Related Products

Associated Links


Marie-Eve St-Hilaire
Manager, Communications
Patented Medicine Prices Review Board

TTY (telecommunications device for the hearing impaired) – 613-288-9654
Follow us on Twitter: @PMPRB_CEPMB

Report a problem or mistake on this page
Please select all that apply:

Thank you for your help!

You will not receive a reply. For enquiries, contact us.

Date modified: