A new survey by researchers at Canada's University of British Colombia estimates that drug expenditure in the country reached CAD20bn (US$17.24bn) by the end of 2005, while per capita spending on medicines has doubled since 1998. Market sources attribute the rise in expenditure to increased consumption coupled with greater availability of more expensive hi-tech treatments. Canada has the fourth fastest growing drug market in the world after China, the US and Spain.

The report goes on to state that the most popular drugs in the country are cardiovascular and cholesterol therapies, which account for around 40% of total prescription spending. Meanwhile, expenditure varies from region to region. Consumers in Quebec and New Brunswick spend 50% more on drugs than people in British Colombia and Saskatchewan. This disparity can be explained by differences in the volume of drugs consumed, but also the fact that people in the more populous areas tend to use more expensive medicines.

The Canadian pharmaceutical market is expected to continue growing rapidly in the short term, although increased expenditure is beginning to trigger government cost-cutting reforms. However, the industry will continue to benefit from the re-import of prescription drugs into the US market with no signs of the trade being curtailed.