NPDUIS Research Agenda

The National Prescription Drug Utilization Information System (NPDUIS) is a research initiative established by federal, provincial, and territorial Ministers of Health in September 2001. It provides decision makers with critical information and intelligence on price, utilization, and cost trends so that Canada’s healthcare system has more comprehensive and accurate information on how medicines are used and on sources of cost pressures.

The NPDUIS Research Agenda reflects the current analytical priorities identified by the NPDUIS Advisory Committee. In 2019-20 and 2020-2021, NPDUIS plans to publish the results of a number of analyses as annual publications, report series, and chartbooks.

Annual publications


This publication monitors and analyzes the cost pressures driving changes in prescription drug expenditures in Canadian public drug plans, including increases in the use of higher-cost drugs, the number of beneficiaries, and the volume of drugs used, as well as cost savings from price reductions and generic and biosimilar substitutions. It is a key resource for policy makers and researchers – informing policy discussions and aiding decision makers in understanding, anticipating, and responding to evolving cost pressures.

Meds Entry Watch

New medicines launched in Canadian and international markets are featured in this PMPRB publication, which explores their approval, uptake, pricing, and sales. This analysis now includes a section focused on new medicines that received authorization in Canada in 2017, as well as existing medicines approved for additional indications. Meds Entry Watch is a companion publication to the Meds Pipeline Monitor. Together these publications provide decision makers, researchers, and patients with information on the new and emerging drug landscape.

Meds Pipeline Monitor

The Meds Pipeline Monitor, formerly published under the title New Drug Pipeline Monitor, features medicines in the late stages of clinical evaluation (Phase III trials or pre-registration) that may have a significant impact on future clinical practice and drug spending in Canada. The report identifies medicines from a wide range of therapeutic areas and includes a list of gene therapies.

Report series

Market Intelligence Reports

This series of reports provides short, targeted analyses of therapeutic market segments of importance to Canadians. It highlights the uptake in utilization, market shares, pricing and treatment costs of the related drug class, and identifies opportunities for potential cost savings. These studies are designed to inform policy discussions, aid in evidence-based decision making, and provide Canadians with a more comprehensive view of issues pertaining to pharmaceutical drug pricing and utilization.

The first two reports in this series explored the market impact of two biologic classes: biologic response modifier agents for the treatment of chronic inflammatory diseases; and anti-VEGFs used to treat age-related macular degeneration and other retinal conditions. Upcoming reports will focus on medicines used in the treatment of asthma and type 2 diabetes, respectively.

Private Drug Plans in Canada

This series of three reports analyzes trends in Canadian private drug plans, the second largest market for prescribed drugs in Canada, accounting for approximately one-third of all prescribed drug spending. It provides policy makers and researchers with information on relevant trends, sources of cost pressures, and cost-saving opportunities.

The first report focused on the generic market. The second part of the series will focus on the impact of high-cost drugs and beneficiaries, and the third report will identify the major factors driving drug costs and dispensing fees in private drug plans, complementing the analysis included in the CompassRx.

Alignment Among Public Formularies in Canada

This three-part series compares the coverage for medicines across provincial and federal public drug plans. The information contained in these reports will inform the dialogue on improving the affordability and accessibility of necessary prescription medicines, including exploring the need for a national formulary.

The first report provided insight into the degree of alignment among the formularies by comparing the overall listings, as well as specific market segments including single- and multi-source medicines, high-cost medicines, and a specified list of essential medicines. The second and third parts will focus on oncology medicines assessed through the pan-Canadian Oncology Drug Review (pCODR) and newer medicines reviewed through the Common Drug Review (CDR) process, respectively.


The PMPRB has recently introduced a series of short, graphic-based analyses. ​​The first chartbook focused on the market for prescription oral solid opioids in Canada and the United States. Topics for upcoming analyses will include the Canadian and international markets for biosimilars, oncology medicines, and expensive drugs for rare diseases (EDRDs).

The NPDUIS Research Agenda is updated regularly in consultation with the NPDUIS Advisory Committee. In addition to its published reports, NPDUIS also conducts ad hoc studies at the request of the participating jurisdictions.

Analytical studies are based on approved research proposals developed in consultation with the NPDUIS Advisory Committee and interested stakeholders. Specific research proposals are available upon request, and any feedback provided will be considered during the development of the project.
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