In terms of public drug program spending, the top 3 drug classes are used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease, hepatitis C and age-related macular degeneration.

November 2018 — Take an in-depth look at prescribed drug spending in Canada and learn more about how different drug classes contribute to current trends in total public drug spending.

Key findings

  • In 2018, $14.4 billion (42.7%) of prescribed drug spending will be financed by the public sector.
  • About 1 in 4 Canadians received a benefit from a public drug program in 2017. Individuals living in low-income and rural/remote neighbourhoods were more likely to receive a benefit. 
  • Canadians with drug costs of $10,000 or more represented 2% of beneficiaries but accounted for more than one-third of public drug spending in 2017.

Report and companion materials


How much is spent on Canada’s public drug programs?

View full report (PDF)

Drug spending at a glance

How much do Canadians spend on drugs?

View drug spending at a glance (PDF)

Methodology notes

Definitions, data sources, limitations and revisions to help you understand and interpret the analysis in the report

View methodology notes (PDF)


Data tables

Top drug classes

What are the top drug classes by rate of use and total program spending in Canada?

View data tables on top drug classes (XLSX)

International comparisons of prescribed drug spending

How much do other countries spend, and how does their public drug program’s share of total spending compare with Canada’s?

View data tables on international comparisons of prescribed drug spending (XLSX)