The most expensive biologic treatments for chronic inflammatory disease dominate the Canadian market

October 25, 2016

Ottawa, ON — Patented Medicine Prices Review Board

The Patented Medicine Prices Review Board (PMPRB), through the National Prescription Drug Utilization Information System research initiative, today published the first edition of the Market Intelligence Report, a new analytical research series that provides drug pricing and utilization information on specific therapeutic market segments that are important to Canadians.

This first edition analyzes the Canadian market for a select number of biologic response modifier agents: Enbrel, Remicade, Kineret, Humira, Rituxan, Orencia, Simponi, Cimzia and Actemra. These drugs are used in the treatment of chronic inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and psoriasis. Focusing on the 2015 calendar year, the report explores the Canadian market from a national and international perspective with a retrospective look at recent trends.

Market Intelligence Report findings show the sales and use of these biologic drugs are higher in Canada than in most comparable international markets. Despite the availability of lower-cost treatments, the majority of Canadian patients continue to use the drugs with the highest treatment costs: Remicade, Humira, and Enbrel. Aligning Canadian drug prices with international levels, especially for Remicade, and using less expensive alternative therapies, such as biosimilars, also known as “subsequent entry biologics,” would result in lower drug costs for Canadians.

The Market Intelligence Report is available on the PMPRB website in PDF and accessible HTML formats.

Quick Facts

  • The growth in Canadian sales of biologic anti-inflammatory drugs has nearly doubled since 2010, reaching $2.2 billion in 2015.
  • In 2015, biologic anti-inflammatory drugs accounted for 10.3% of the Canadian pharmaceutical market, a higher share than all the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board comparator countries except for Sweden. Market shares in the other countries (France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States) ranged from 4.1% to 7.7%.
  • The top-selling biologic, Remicade, had a much higher market share in Canada (nearly 40%) than internationally (12% to 23% for the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board comparator countries).
  • Remicade, which is almost exclusively delivered through manufacturer-sponsored clinics in Canada, costs an average of 25% less in comparable foreign markets, translating into a difference of $224 million in Canadian sales in 2015. Over the past decade, the cumulative sales of Remicade in Canada have reached $4.8 billion.
  • Competition from Inflectra, a biosimilar that costs nearly half the price of Remicade, has been much lower in Canada than in other OECD countries. If the use of the biosimilar for Remicade in Canada had mirrored the median OECD use in 2015 (10.1%), it would have translated into $41.7 million reduction in drug expenditures.
  • If the biosimilar uptake in Canada was in line with that of Norway, the country with the lowest biosimilar price and one of the highest uptakes at 67.8%, the cost implications would be substantial: a reduction of $280.1 million in drug expenditures, or 1.3% of the entire pharmaceutical market in Canada.

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Sofie McCoy-Astell
Manager, Communications
Patented Medicine Prices Review Board

TTY (telecommunications device for the hearing impaired) – 613-957-4373
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