Top 10 Medications in Canada This Summer: Trends and Statistics

top 10 meds

The best-selling and most prescribed drugs are not the same. Why? 72% of prescriptions in Canada are filled with generic medications, which is only 20% in dollar value.

In 2022, the Canadian prescription drug market continues to grow, with an average price per prescription increasing for brand-name medications and decreasing for non-patented medicines, according to the Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association (CGPA). However, the main indicators of Q1 and Q2 have not shown any revolutionary changes in the Rx Market.

Top Drugs Classes in Summer 2022

There is an essential difference between the top classes of medications if considered by spending or by the number of prescriptions.

According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, in public drug programs, 3 top-spending drug classes are:

  1. Rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease drugs.
  2. Antivirals for Hepatitis C.
  3. Antineovascularization agents for age-related macular degeneration (eye disease).

At the same time, the statistics based on the number of prescriptions says that cardiovascular drugs remain the most prescribed for more than 25 years.

Top 3 Most Prescribed Drugs Classes:

  1. Cardiovascular therapy drugs.
  2. Gastroenterology medicines.
  3. Mental health medications.

As we can see, the spending is higher for so-called specialty drugs — medications for chronic and complex conditions that are considered non-curable or hard-to-cure disease — but the number of prescriptions is higher for traditional medications.

As Express Script Canada experts say in their research based on the data of 2018–2018, there is a stronger trend to increase the share of specialty drugs. In Q3 2022 we can expect more sales in a specialty drug segment.

All the above-mentioned statistics are based on the data of public drug programs and sales of local pharmacies. There is also a barely studied segment of e-pharmacies that mostly work in a grey market, as currently there are no tools for e-prescribing. So, we do not have any reliable sales data from Canadian Internet pharmacies.

E-Prescription Issues and Perspectives

The national Canadian e-prescribed service was implemented in 2018. PrescribeIT serves a limited number of national health providers and local pharmacies and does not yet include many facilities dispensing prescription drugs. We are not inclined to go into much detail on the issue in this article as it leads us astray from the main topic.

10 Bestselling Medications in Canadian Pharmacies

It is not possible yet to give accurate data — they will be finalized by the end of the year — but with consideration to statistics and major marketing trends, the approximation is as follows:

  1. Adalimumab.

Trade name: Humira by AbbVie

Drug class: anti-rheumatic
Used for: rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, chronic plaque psoriasis, and other inflammatory conditions

  1. Infliximab

Trade names: Remicade by Janssen Biotech, Inflectra by Celltrion, Renflexis by Merk
Drug class: anti-rheumatic
Used for: Crohn’s disease, psoriasis arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, and other inflammatory diseases

  1. Ustekinumab

Trade names: Stelara by Janssen Biotech
Drug class: immunosuppressant
Used for: plaque psoriasis, psoriasis arthritis, Crohn’s disease, and other inflamations

  1. Methylphenidate

Trade names: Ritalin by Novartis, Concerta by Janssen Biotech, Biphentin by Purdue Pharma, Foquest by Purdue Pharma
Drug class: central nervous system stimulant
Used for: attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy

  1. Sitagliptin/Metformin combination

Trade names: Janumet by Merck
Drug class: oral anti-diabetic drug
Used for: diabetes

  1. Liraglutide

Trade names: Victoza / Saxenda by Novo Nordics,
Drug class: anti-diabetic
Used for: type 2 diabetes mellitus, weight loss

  1. Entanercept

Trade names: Enbrel by Amgen, Brenzys by Merck, Erelzi by Sandoz
Drug class: anti-rheumatic

Used for: ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and plaque psoriasis.

  1. Insulin Glargine

Trade names: Lantus and Toujeo by Sanofi, Basaglar by Eli Lilly
Drug class: insulin
Used for: diabetes mellitus

  1. Rosuvastin

Trade names: Crestor by AstraZeneca
Drug class: Statins
Used for: high cholesterol

  1. Aflibercept

Trade names: Eylea and Zaltrap by Regeneron
Drug class: anti-angiogenic ophthalmic agents
Used for: wet macular degeneration and retinal swelling

No significant changes are expected compared with 2018–2019, except that Humira, a world top-selling medication, advances steadily and Eylea also makes it to the top.

The Most Prescribed Medications in Canada

If considered by the number of prescriptions, the leaders are statins, drugs that decrease cholesterol levels. They are routinely used in elder patients to low the risks of cardiovascular diseases. They are followed by proton pump inhibitors that are the class of gastroenterology drugs. The third position is reserved for beta-blockers, medicines for reducing high blood pressure. It appears that all the most prescribed drugs are traditional medicines.

The top 10 medications by the number of prescriptions in Q3 looks as follow:

  1. Rosuvastin (Crestor): a drug to reduce cholesterol.
  2. Amoxicillin (Amoxil): an antibiotic of broad spectrum of action.
  3. Bisoprolol (Monocor): a beta-blocker to reduce blood pressure.
  4. Atorvastatin (Lipitor): a statin reducing cholesterol.
  5. Omeprazole (Losec): a proton pump inhibitor for gastroesophageal reflux disease.
  6. Salbutamol (Ventolin): an asthma inhaler
  7. Escitalopram (Cipralex): a depression drug
  8. Rabeprazole (Pariet): a heartburn drug
  9. Amlodipine (Norvasc): a heart disease medicine.
  10. Sertraline (Zoloft): an antidepressant.

Most of traditional medications are relatively cheap and have many generic options. That is why, being essentials, they are not on the best-selling drugs.

Future Trends

Specialty drugs are growing in their share, and by 2025 spending on them might reach 45% compared to 33% in 2018. As a result, it may cause an increase in overall drug spending in Canada. At the same time, the traditional drug segment has the potential for decreasing of spending through further replacement brand medications with generic analogs. In a short-time perspective, as for Q3-Q4 2020, significant changes are not expected.