Does perception match reality when it comes to prescription drug costs in Canada?

Published on
March 15, 2024
Written by
Delphic Research
Read time
3 min

In the information age, it’s critical that we verify facts and data to ensure our opinions aren’t informed by biases.

This is especially true when it comes to the ongoing debate on the cost of brand name pharmaceuticals within Canada’s health care system. Much of the public discourse around prescription drug costs has centred around the notion that government and private sector budgets are increasingly overwhelmed by costs associated with patented medicines.

But does perception match reality when it comes to prescription drug costs? The data suggests there is a gap between perception and reality on this topic.

An article published today by Dr. Brett Skinner, CEO of the Canadian Health Policy Institute (CHPI), finds that patented medicines accounted for only 5.5 per cent of the more than $334 billion in total national healthcare expenditures reported in 2022. In fact, when accounting for rebates, drug spending on patented medicines accounted for less than 5 per cent of total public and private healthcare expenditures that same year.

Far from overwhelming healthcare budgets, safe and effective medicines are helping to sustain Canada’s health care system, putting it on a financially viable footing and ensuring people are kept healthy and out of hospital through life saving drugs.

This article reminds us of the importance of digging beyond the headlines and our own biases when approaching complex public policy topics.

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