XLPharmacy News! Canada's Generic Drugs Growth
For the first time this decade, generic drugs accounted for all of the growth in prescriptions dispensed by Canadian pharmacies last year while brand-name medicines declined marginally.
Retail prescriptions rose 3.7 per cent last year, the slowest growth since 1995. This has attributed the slowdown to, among other things, nine brand-name drugs that faced generic competition for the first time, including Pfizer Inc.'s antibiotic Zithromax and GlaxoSmithKline PLC's antidepressant Wellbutrin."
Any Good News?
The good news is that increased use of generic drugs is helping to curb Canadians' prescription drug costs.
What's the Bad News?
The bad news is that loopholes in drug patent laws continue to force governments, employers and consumers in Canada to pay for higher-priced brand-name drugs for longer than they should. "
The impact of generic competition can be dramatic. Glaxo's Canadian sales of Paxil, for example, were $222-million in 2002. In 2004, the first full year of generic competition, total sales of the antidepressant had fallen to $154-million, with generics accounting for 58 per cent of prescriptions and 54 per cent of sales, according to IMS data obtained from industry sources.
What was spent?
The total spending on pharmaceuticals by pharmacies and hospitals reached $16.6-billion last year, an increase of 7.3 per cent, the lowest level of growth since 1996. In 2005, generic medicines accounted for 43 per cent of all prescriptions but only 13.8 per cent of total drug spending. If the use of lower-priced generics matched the 53-per-cent market share in the United States, it would save Canada's health care system up to $500-million in the first year alone.
The pharmaceutical market in Canada is expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 5 to 8 per cent over the next five years, with generic competition and government cost-cutting continuing to hurt brand-name manufacturers. However, several promising new drugs are expected in 2006, including diabetes therapy Exubera, hypertension drug Caduet and Cymbalta for depression.
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