PMPRB release analyzes key cost pressures driving changes in public plan prescription drug expenditures

News release

December 12, 2023 — Ottawa, ON — Patented Medicine Prices Review Board

The latest edition of the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board (PMPRB) CompassRx report shows that the 10 highest-cost drugs reimbursed by public drug plans in Canada were all rare disease treatments with annual treatment costs of over $250,000.

CompassRx is an annual report published under the National Prescription Drug Utilization Information System (NPDUIS) research initiative. CompassRx provides insight into the factors driving prescription drug expenditures in select Canadian public drug plans. This edition focuses on the 2021-22 fiscal year, where increased use of higher-cost drugs continued to be the main factor driving growth.

The findings from this report will inform policy discussions at the provincial/territorial level, and aid decision makers in anticipating and responding to evolving cost pressures that have an impact on public drug plans. The study includes all provincial public drug plans (with the exception of Quebec), as well as Yukon and the Non-Insured Health Benefits Program. These plans account for approximately one third of the total annual spending on prescription drugs in Canada. 

Quick facts

  • Prescription drug expenditures for the NPDUIS public drug plans increased by 6.8% in 2021-22, bringing annual spending to $13.2 billion.

  • Total prescription drug expenditures for Canada’s public drug plans rose by $3.1 billion over the last 5 years, for a compound annual growth rate of 4.9%.

  • Drug costs in NPDUIS public plans grew by 8.4% in 2021-22, accounting for $10.9 billion of a total $13.2 billion in public drug plan expenditures, while dispensing costs had a modest growth (0.1% or $1.7 million). 

  • The increased use of higher-cost drugs continued to be the most pronounced driver in 2021/22, pushing costs upward by 8.1%.

Related products


PMPRB Media Relations
Follow us on X, formerly known as Twitter: @PMPRB_CEPMB

Page details

Date modified: