Oncology Medicines in Canada: Trends and International Comparisons, 2010–2019

Oncology medicines are an increasingly important driver of Canadian pharmaceutical sales. Over the past decade, this significant segment has doubled its share of the market, now accounting for $3.9 billion in sales nationally.

Cancer is a leading cause of death around the world, responsible for 1 in 6 deaths globally and close to 1 in 3 deaths in Canada. In 2020 alone, Canada is estimated to have 225,800 new oncology cases and 83,300 cancer deaths. With an aging population expected to increase demand for cancer therapies, and a strong pipeline of oncology medicines under development, this fast-growing market is expected to continue to be an important consideration for Canadian patients, prescribers, and payers in years to come.

This analysis provides an overview of the Canadian prescription oncology market from 2010 to 2019. The chartbook is divided into three sections: the first explores the dynamics of the international market for oncology medicines; the second takes a closer look at oncology sales, market distribution, and treatment costs in Canada; and the third examines these trends in the context of Canada’s private drug plans.

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