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Canadians Use More Prescription Drugs than Ever Before

Sunday, April 12, 2009 by: Louis Lazaris
Tags: Canadians, health news, Natural News

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(NewsTarget) A report released by a drug-tracking firm reveals that prescription drug use among Canadians was higher in 2008 than in any previous year. The report, released on March 26 by IMS Health, a worldwide pharmaceutical-tracking company, assesses pharmaceutical use by tracking the number of prescriptions dispensed by pharmacists annually.

IMS estimates that Canadians spent $21.4 billion on prescription medications in 2008, up from $20.2 billion in 2007. Pharmacists in 10 Canadian provinces filled 453 million prescriptions in 2008, up 7.1% over the previous year. For 33.2 million Canadians, that's an average of nearly 14 prescriptions per citizen.

The report also outlines that, although the current economic slowdown did not impact prescription drug sales in 2008, the market share for brand-name pharmaceuticals is declining. Dispensed volume for generic drugs grew by 15%, in contrast to a decrease of 0.3% for that of brand-name prescription medications.

"Basically it's an increased utilization," said Brian Carter, director of external affairs for IMS Health Canada. "But that's driven by things like the aging population, an increasing number of products in the marketplace and increasing awareness of consumers of the diseases they have and the drugs that are there to treat them."

Canadian health economist Steve Morgan pointed out that prescription drug use in Canada has been slowly, but steadily, increasing each year for about 15 years. "Many people would point to the aging of the population as a potential explanation of this," he said. "Certainly the baby boomer generation is finding itself getting older and they're entering the years in which it can be expected that they will be filling more prescriptions over time. But ... we don't see that aging of the population is a big cause of drug spending or drug utilization increases."

Morgan further explained that the aging Canadian population accounts for about 1% of the annual increases in pharmaceutical use, "not by this seven or eight per cent you see in the (IMS) data." The significant increases over the past two decades are more likely due to proliferation of newly developed medicines and an increase in marketing efforts of pharmaceuticals to both doctors and patients.

According to the report, the most prescribed drug categories in Canada in 2008 were Cardiovasculars and Psychotherapeutics, both of which increased in dispensation by more than 7% over the previous year. Another significant statistic was that of prescription drug sales to Canadian hospitals and pharmacies, which increased by 6.6% in 2008, compared to 6.2% in the previous year.

The province with the highest number of prescriptions per capita was Quebec, with an average of 23 prescribed medications for each resident. The next highest was Newfoundland/Labrador, with 14. The significant difference between the top two provinces in the report, however, is easily explained by the fact that prescriptions in Quebec are normally of a shorter duration than all other Canadian provinces, thus the number of medications dispensed is higher. Alberta had the lowest number with 9 prescriptions per capita.

The report also provided statistics detailing the top reasons for physician visits in Canada. Hypertension was the highest, with nearly 21 million visits. "Routine General Medical Exam" was the second highest with about 10 million.

IMS Health's analysis does not indicate any statistics for Canada's three territories (Yukon, Nunavut, and North West Territories), however those non-provinces account for only about 0.3 percent of Canada's overall population.

According to their website, IMS Health is "the world's leading provider of market intelligence to the pharmaceutical and health-care stakeholders."

Sources:

http://chealth.canoe.ca/channel_health_news_...
http://www.imshealthcanada.com/web/content/0...
http://www.imshealthcanada.com/vgn/images/po... ENGLISH.pdf
https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-f...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Canadia...
http://www.imshealthcanada.com/web/channel/0...

About the author

Louis Lazaris is a website designer and the owner of Natural-Life.ca, a directory that provides free business listings for natural health practitioners, organic food stores, organic farms, and organic & vegetarian restaurants in major North American cities like Toronto and New York City.

Louis also maintains a web design blog where he regularly posts articles and tutorials on web development.

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