On October 26 in Montreal, the Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association (CGPA) sponsored a half-day symposium for those involved in employer- and union- sponsored drug plans in Quebec and Canada. It is part of our industry’s commitment to be more active in reaching out to the private payer community in Canada.
As retail or reimbursed prices for generic prescription drugs are being dramatically reduced for both private and public payers across Canada, the potential reward for cooperation between the generic pharmaceutical industry and private sector payers has never been greater.
According to ims brogan, the leading source for prescription drug sales information, generic drugs are dispensed to fill fully 59 percent of all prescriptions in Canada, yet account for only 25 percent of the $22-billion spent annually on prescription drugs in Canada.
It is estimated that for every one percent increase in generic drug utilization in Canada, Canadians save an additional $236-million, and private sector payers in Canada save an additional $126-million.
The use of generic drugs by provincial drug plans in Canada is considerably higher than generic drug use by private sector payers. Sales data from ims brogan shows that generic drugs are dispensed to fill more than 60 percent of prescriptions paid for by public drug programs but only 47 percent of private sector prescriptions.
In the United States, generic drugs are dispensed to fill 78 percent of all prescriptions. If the use of generic drugs in Canada was equal to US levels, Canadians would have saved an additional $3.5-billion in 2010. Of this total, more than half, $1.9-billion, would have been saved by private sector payers.
While the reasons for these discrepancies are not entirely clear, the benefits of understanding and overcoming them are obvious.
We have an unprecedented opportunity to put Canada’s drug benefit plans on a more sustainable footing. The generic pharmaceutical industry welcomes all opportunities to work with private sector payers to realize that potential.