Cheaper Prescription Drugs in Canada? Maybe Not!

AUGUST 01, 2005
Ken Rankin

Although growing numbers of US consumers are turning to Canadian mail order pharmacies for cheaper prescription medicines, new research suggests that many drugs are actually more expensive north of the border. A new price analysis by the Toronto-based Fraser Institute found that, on average, elder Canadians pay a whopping 64% more for their generic drugs than US seniors do.

Because of Canada's pharmaceutical price controls, the study's analysis of brand name drugs frequently prescribed for seniors found just the opposite result.

Canadian seniors pay an average of 36% less than Americans for these medicines, the researchers found.

Those same price controls, however, appear to be distorting the Canadian Rx market in a way that drives up the cost of generics for older patients, they said.

"Inflated Canadian prices for generic drugs are caused by the lack of a competitive market for nonpatented pharmaceuticals, which is the fault of misguided government policies," the Institute concluded.

Mr. Rankin is a freelance medical writer.