Differences in generic drug prices between the US and Canada
- 59 Downloads
It has long been recognized that brand name prescription medications are more expensive in the US than in Canada. However, non-peer-reviewed reports contend that this is not the case for generic medications.
To compare prices for generic prescription medications in the US and Canada.
A telephone and internet survey of pharmacies was conducted for the top 19 dispensed generic medications available in both countries. Twelve pharmacies in total were selected: six from the US (three online and three ‘walk-in’) and six from Canada (three online and three walk-in). Data were collected from March to April 2007.
The main outcome measure was the total purchase price in $US at the day’s exchange rate in 2007, obtained from each of the 12 pharmacies, for 100 doses of each of the 19 selected drugs.
Using the lowest quote for each selected drug, 12 of the 19 (63%) generic medications were least expensive in the US, with an average saving of 47% per drug for these 12 drugs. Seven of the 19 (37%) drugs were least expensive in Canada, with an average saving of 29% per drug for these seven drugs. Overall, there was a sizable variation in prices for the same generic medications within and between the US and Canada.
The lowest priced generic medications were not consistently found in either the US or Canada. The price controls and ensuing savings applied in Canada to prescription patented medications do not fully extend to generic medications.
KeywordsGeneric Medication Oxazepam Median Price Average Saving Online Pharmacy
Dr Bell is the recipient of a Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Institute of Aging New Investigator Award. Both authors contributed to the conception and analysis of the data, the draft and revision of the manuscript and the statistical analysis. Mr Gooi acquired the data, and Dr Bell provided supervision.
The funding agency, CIHR, had no role in the design and conduct of the study; collection, management, analysis and interpretation of the data; or preparation, review and approval of the manuscript. The corresponding author had full access to all of the data in the study and takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.
We thank Drs Allan Detsky, Don Redelmeier and Ron Wald for their helpful comments on the manuscript.
The authors have no conflicts of interest that are directly relevant to the content of this study.
- 1.Skinner BJ, Rovere M. Canada’s drug price paradox 2007. Vancouver (BC): The Fraser Institute, 2007Google Scholar
- 2.Danzon PM, Furukawa MF. Prices and availability of pharmaceuticals: evidence from nine countries. Health Affairs: web exclusive, 2003 Oct 29: W3-521-W3-536 [online]. Available from URL: http://content.healthaffairs.org/webexclusives/index.dtl?.year=2003 [Accessed 2008 Aug 8]Google Scholar
- 3.Graham JR, Robson BA. Prescription drug prices in Canada and the United States. Part 1: a comparative survey. Public Policy Sources 42. Vancouver (BC): The Fraser Institute, 2000Google Scholar
- 6.Baker C. Would prescription drug reimportation reduce U.S. drug spending? Economic and budget issue brief. Washington, DC: Congressional Budget Office, 2004 Apr 29Google Scholar
- 10.Patented Medicine Prices Review Board [PMPRB]. Non-patented prescription prices reporting: Canadian and foreign price trends. Ottawa (ON): Government of Canada, 2006Google Scholar
- 11.Generic drug prices: a Canada U.S. comparison. Ottawa (ON): Palmer D’Angelo Consulting Inc., 2002 AugGoogle Scholar
- 12.Bren L. Study: U.S. generic drugs cost less then Canadian drugs. FDA Consum 2004 Jul–Aug; 38(4): 9 [online]. Available from URL: http://www.fda.gov/fdac/features/2004/404_generic.html [Accessed 2008 Aug 22]PubMedGoogle Scholar
- 14.Pharmaceutical trends: top 50 dispensed medications in Canada. Montreal (QC): IMS Health Canada, 2005Google Scholar
- 15.Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. Drugs funded by Ontario Drug Benefit (ODB) Program: e-formulary [online]. Available from URL: http://www.health.gov.on.ca/english/providers/program/drugs/odbf_eformulary.html [Accessed 2007 Feb 8]
- 16.Kyriakos T. Canada’s top drug chains. Drug store news 2001 Apr 23 [online]. Available from URL: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m3374/is_6_23/ai_73847877 [Accessed 2006 Nov 20]Google Scholar
- 17.Pharmacy ratings and profiles [online]. Available from URL: http://pharmacychecker.com/rating.asp [Accessed 2006 Nov 20]
- 19.Top 30 drug chains in dollar volume. Drug store news 2004 Apr 19 [online]. Available from URL: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m3374/is_6_26/ai_n6007390 [Accessed 2006 Nov 20]
- 20.Verified internet pharmacy practice sites: for consumers; list of pharmacies [online]. Available from URL: http://www.nabp.net/ [Accessed 2007 Nov 23]
- 24.XE: the worlds favorite currency site [online]. Available from URL: http://www.xe.com/ [Accessed 2007 Aug 15]
- 25.Generic drug prices in the U.S. are lower than drug prices in Canada. FDA White Paper. Rockville (MD): Office of Planning, 2003 NovGoogle Scholar
- 28.Section A7: the U.S. drugs system. In: Fundamental review of the generic drugs market. Report prepared by OXERA for the UK Department of Health. Oxford: OXERA, 2001 JulGoogle Scholar
- 29.Top 10 products by U.S. dispensed prescription. Norwalk (CT): IMS Health, IMS National Prescription Audit PLUS, 2007 MarGoogle Scholar
- 32.Mills RJ, Bhandari S. Health insurance coverage in the United States: 2002. Washington (DC): US Department of Commerce and Statistics Administration. US Census Bureau, 2003 SepGoogle Scholar
- 33.Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. Ontario drug benefit (ODB) [online]. Available from URL: http://www.health.gov.on.ca/english/public/program/drugs/drugs_mn.html [Accessed 2006 Nov 17]
- 34.Ontario drug benefit program. 2005/06 report card for the Ontario drug benefit program. Toronto (ON): Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, 2007: 12Google Scholar
- 35.Cunningham PJ, Felland LE. Falling behind: Americans’ access to medical care deteriorates, 2003–2007. Track Rep 2008 Jun; (19): 1–5Google Scholar