CompassRx, 7th Edition

Executive Summary

Prescription drug expenditures for the NPDUIS public drug plans rose to $12.5 billion in 2019/20, an increase of 3.7% over spending in 2018/19. While new restrictions on eligibility requirements in Ontario’s OHIP+ program had a significant impact on costs, the overall growth in prescription drug expenditures continued to be primarily driven by notable increases in the use of higher-cost drugs.

The PMPRB’s CompassRx report monitors and analyzes the cost pressures driving changes in prescription drug expenditures in Canadian public drug plans. This seventh edition of CompassRx provides insight into the factors driving growth in drug and dispensing costs in 2019/20, as well as a retrospective review of recent trends in public drug plan costs and utilization.

The main data source for this report is the National Prescription Drug Utilization Information System (NPDUIS) Database at the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), which includes data for the following jurisdictions: British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, Yukon, and the Non-Insured Health Benefits Program.

The findings from this report will inform policy discussions and aid decision makers in anticipating and responding to evolving cost pressures.

Key findings

Prescription drug expenditures for the NPDUIS public drug plans increased by 3.7% in 2019/20, bringing annual spending to $12.5 billion.

Drug cost growth for the NPDUIS public plans in 2019/20 was primarily driven by a greater use of higher-cost drugs and was offset in part by the decreasing use of DAAs for hepatitis C and plan design changes in Ontario.

Dispensing costs in the NPDUIS public plans increased slightly to $2.5 billion in 2019/20 due to opposing forces from plan design changes in British Columbia and Ontario.

Full report

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