A new report says the growth in spending on prescribed and non-prescribed drugs has slowed in Canada, but the overall tally still came to an estimated $31.1-billion last year.
The Canadian Institute for Health Information says drug expenditures last year grew $1.4-billion or 4.8 per cent over the previous year - the lowest rate since 1996.
The average annual growth rate in drug spending was nearly twice as high between 2000 and 2005, at 8.9 per cent.
An institute official says the slowdown in growth is partly attributable to blockbuster brand-name drugs coming off patent, allowing for lower-priced generic alternatives to be used instead.
Michael Hunt, the director of pharmaceuticals and health workforce information services, says the implementation of generic pricing policies by some provincial drug programs may also be contributing to the slowdown.
Per capita spending on prescribed and non-prescribed drugs is forecast to reach $912 per Canadian in 2010.
When only prescribed drugs are considered, per capita spending ranged from a low of $574 in British Columbia to a high of $883 in Quebec.
The report, published Thursday, said Canada ranked as the second highest spender per person compared with 25 other countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development in 2008, the latest year for which comparative figures are available.
CIHI is an independent, not-for-profit organization, funded by various levels of government, that provides health information to Canadians.
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