SOURCE: Canadian Health Policy Institute


December 15, 2015 05:00 ET

Canadian Public Drug Plans Cover Only 24% of New Drugs; Quebec Leads at 40%

TORONTO, ON--(Marketwired - December 15, 2015) - New research shows that as of January 31, 2015, Canada's public drug plans covered an average of only 24% of the 464 new drugs approved for sale by Health Canada over the 10-year period from 2004-2013.

Of the new drugs that were covered, the average of the delays to list a new drug on the public formulary that were observed across all 11 federal and provincial drug plans was 731 days.

The study was published at Canadian Health Policy the online journal of Canadian Health Policy Institute (CHPI).

The federal government and each of the provincial and territorial governments operate separate publicly funded prescription drug benefit plans within their jurisdiction. Eligibility for these programs is typically offered to seniors, recipients of social assistance, and/or individuals with high drug costs. The federal drug plan covers aboriginal populations.

Dr. Brett J Skinner co-authored the report and said, "Our research shows that the quality of drug benefits varies drastically between public drug plans. Some jurisdictions provide much better benefits for their publicly insured populations than do other jurisdictions."

Skinner is the founder and CEO of Canadian Health Policy Institute. He is also Executive Director of Health and Economic Policy at the pharmaceutical industry association known as Rx&D.

The study found that Quebec (40.1%) and Ontario (31.0%) provided the highest coverage rates for new drugs, while the federal NIHB (17.0%), Alberta (18.1%), Manitoba (19.4%), British Columbia (19.6%) and Prince Edward Island (19.8%) provided the lowest coverage rates.

Quebec (432 days) had the shortest average delays to listing new drugs on its public drug plan, while New Brunswick (986 days) and Prince Edward Island (931 days) had the longest delays to listing.

Among the 11 public drug plans studied, Quebec provided the best overall access to new drugs.

Skinner believes the findings deserve public attention saying, "More than 11 million people rely on federal and provincial drug plans for their prescription medications. The evidence suggests that even the best public drug plans are under-insuring people for access to new medicines. This is important because there are significant health and economic benefits to be gained from better access to pharmaceutical innovation."

Get the Study

The study, Coverage for new medicines in Canada's public drug plans, 2015 is available online at: or

About CHPI

Follow @CHPI1 on Twitter.

CHPI is a crowd-funded, consumer-driven, independent think-tank dedicated to conducting, publishing and communicating evidence-based research on the health system performance and health policy issues that are important to Canadians.

Contact Information