Canadian Drugs Canadian Drugs

5 Most Expensive Canadian Drugs in Canada’s Healthcare System

In a comprehensive study of health systems worldwide, Canada’s healthcare system ranked 9th out of the top 11 countries.

Canada’s health system is a publicly funded system called Canadian Medicare, and the main drug regulatory authority for Canada is Health Canada, which regulates and evaluates. 

It monitors the whole process of the safe and quality production of Canadian drugs for the citizens. 

The healthcare models are public and private-funded, of which the public-funded healthcare system is more developed. To learn more about the Canadian healthcare system

Despite having a system of health care that public funds and most medications pay for, it is available to the citizens at a much lower rate. 

Still, some medicines are extremely expensive but in high demand. This article will talk about the five most dispensed Canadian drugs in the country, which are expensive yet in demand.

1. Myozyme (alglucosidase alfa)

Myozyme is a brand name for the medical formula called alglucosidase alfa. It is prescribed for the treatment of Pomp disease, which is a disease caused by GAA deficiency. PMPRB’s Human Drug Advisory Panel1 (HDAP) classified the drug under category two new medicine.

1.1 What is Pompe disease?

Pomp disease is a rare, progressive, debilitating, and fatal neuromuscular disorder2.

 It is also known as acid maltase deficiency or glycogen storage disease type II is mainly caused by a lack of an enzyme called acid alpha-glucosidase, which is needed to break down glycogen 3in the body.

1.2 Myozyme introduction under Canada Drugs

The drug was patented in Canada under the patentee called GENZYME CANADA INC. 

The date of issuance of the first patents for the medicine was April 29, 2008. It was the earliest marketed data record in the drug product database. To find out more, click here.

1.3 Myozyme cost in Canada

According to a database for Canadian drug expenditure for the fiscal year 2018/2019, the second most expensive Canadian drug was Myozyme (alglucosidase alfa), costing about 620 thousand Canadian dollars per patient-year. 

Since Myozyme is an effective treatment for Pompe disease, this drug is in huge demand in Canada. To find out more, click here.

2. Soliris (eculizumab)

Soliris is a brand name for a medical formula called Eculizumab4. It is a medication used to treat paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria5, an atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome (aHUS).

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

2.1 What is (aHUS)?

Acute Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (aHUS) is a rare, chronic, and life-threatening genetic condition that affects blood vessels.

 In this disease, the immune system attacks the body’s unhealthy and healthy cells, which can cause blood vessel damage, abnormal blood clotting, and progressive damage to the body’s major organs, leading to heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, and death. 

This disease has affected fewer patients in Canada ( about 60)in the worst way.

2.2 Soliris introduction under Canadian drugs.

The drug Solaris received marketing authorization from Health Canada for all patients with PNH in 2009.

Originally, Health Canada approved it as a safe and effective drug in the list of Canda drugs for use against two blood disorders in about 180 Canadians. 

These include children and adults affected by paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria and atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome6 (aHUS).

Later, it was approved for use in adult patients with generalized Myasthenia Gravis7 (GMG) in 2013. 

Thus, Soliris became the only drug among the persisting Canadian drugs to treat aHUS. To learn more about the full marketing authorization of Soliris in Canada, click here.

2.3 Soliris cost in Canada,

Although there isn’t much of a population affected by this drug in Canada, it still works as a boon for the patients in Canada. 

Hence, it was also in demand despite its expensive nature. Data on Canada’s drug expenditure for the fiscal year of 2019–2018 cost about 46 thousand Canadian dollars per patient. 

To find out more, click here. Its treatment costs range from $500,000 to $700,000 per year.

Canadian Drugs
By sirawit99/Unlimphotos

3. Vpriv (velaglucerase alfa)

Vpriv is a brand name for a medical formula called Velaglucerase alfa.8 It is a hydrolytic lysosomal glucocerebroside-specific enzyme. 

A recombinant form of glucocerebrosidase is indicated as a long-term enzyme replacement therapy for Gaucher disease Type 1.

The incidence of Gaucher disease in the general population of Canada isn’t that high. 

According to an estimation, the number of Canadians affected by this disease is approximately 1 in 60,000, and the prevalence is estimated to be 1/100,000.

3.1 What is Gaucher disease?

Gaucher disease is a type of disease that causes the building up of fatty acids in bone marrow, spleen, and liver. 

These fats are deposited due to a lack of enzymes produced in the body of patients, which dissolve these fats. 

As a result, these deposited fatty acids weaken the bones as well as cause enlargement of organs, hence hampering their normal functioning.

The treatment of this disease involves an enzyme replacement therapy in which the enzymes that dissolve the fats are infused.

3.2 Vpriv introduction under Canadian drugs.

Shire Plc was one of the biggest biopharmaceutical companies in Canada, which first manufactured the medicine vpriv. 

Vipriv (velaglucerase alfa) was first approved by Health Canada in 2010 for long-term use in pediatric and adult type 1 Gaucher disease.

The major contribution for approval was based on data from Shire’s 

The velaglucerase alfa clinical development program represents the largest and most comprehensive clinical data set supporting registration for an ERT for type 1 Gaucher disease.

3.3 Vpriv cost in Canada

Though the number of Gaucher type one patient is limited, the vpriv is the most preferred drug among other Canda drugs for this disease’s treatment due to its efficiency. 

According to the data on expensive Canadian drugs in 2018/2019, the vpriv cost about 322,482 Canadian dollars per patient per year.

 The average annual price of Vpriv prescribed as a Canadian drug ranges from $50,830 to $609,960, depending on the patient’s weight (range: 20 kg to 80 kg) and treatment dose (range: 30 U/kg to 60 U/kg), respectively. To find out more, click here.

4. Kalydeco (ivacaftor)

Kalydeco is the brand name for a medical formula called Ivacaftor9.

 This drug, including Canadian drugs, treats cystic fibrosis in people with various mutations in their cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator gene. 

This drug has been proven effective for treating cystic fibrosis (10CF) in people with more than 97 different CFTR mutations.

4.1 What is Cystic Fibrosis?

An inherited, life-threatening disorder that damages the lungs and digestive system.

 It adversely affects the functions of cells that produce mucus, sweat, and digestive juices. This genetic disease affects approximately 4,300 people in Canada.

It is mainly caused by a defective or missing cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) protein resulting from mutations in the CFTR gene.

4.2 Kalydeco introduction under Canada drugs.

The drug Kalydeco was first approved by Health Canada in November 2012 to be included in Canadian medications. 

The approval was for use in people with CF ages six and older who have at least one copy of the G551D mutation in the CFTR gene.

In August 2021, Health Canada granted marketing authorization for kalydeco in infants with cystic fibrosis (CF)

Also, Kalydeco became the first and only drug among other Canadian drugs approved by Canada Healthcare to be used to treat cystic fibrosis in children at a young age.

4.3 Kalydeco cost in Canada.

Kalydeco has been proven to be an effective drug against cystic fibrosis worldwide.

People with these mutations make up about 4% of the cystic fibrosis population worldwide. Hence, this drug is quite in demand despite its expensive cost.

According to the data on expensive Canadian drugs in 2018/2019, the kalydeco cost about 262,432 Canadian dollars per patient per year. 

Currently, it costs about 300,000 Canadian dollars per patient per year. To find out more, click here.

5. Ilaris (Canakinumab)

Ilaris is a brand name for a medical formula called Canakinumab. This medication treats active Still’s disease. 

It includes Adult-Onset Still’s Disease (AOSD) and Systemic Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (SJIA) in patients aged two years and older. 

This drug is used for various autoinflammatory diseases, including rare and serious auto-inflammatory tumor necrosis factor receptor-associated periodic syndrome11 (TRAPS), hyper immunoglobulin D syndrome (HIDS), and others.

Recently in 2020, Ilaris was approved in the United States for the indication to treat active Still’s a disease, including adult-onset Still’s a disease (AOSD)

5.1 What is Still’s disease?

Still’s disease is a life-threatening autoinflammatory disease with two of its forms.

One is in the childhood form, known as systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis (SJIA), and another is in the adult form, called adult-onset Still’s disease12 (AOSD).

 The still’s disease is characterized by high spiking fevers, the salmon-colored rash that comes and goes, and arthritis.

 Though the cause of this disorder is unknown (idiopathic ), it is rare, debilitating, and sometimes life-threatening, affecting the whole body (systematic ). 

In a study, Out of the two types, the Adult Stills Disease incidence in North America and Canada was approximately 394,3.

5.2 Ilaris introduction under Canada Drugs

Although the disease is rare in Canada, Ilaris was still included in Canadian drugs because of its effectiveness.

Earlier in 2013, the drug was approved to be included in the list of Canadian drugs for treating SJIA in older patients. 

The approval was based on data from the Novartis Phase III trials, which stated that 84% of patients treated with one subcutaneous dose of Ilaris achieved the primary endpoint.

In April 2021, Health Canada approved Ilaris for the treatment of adult-onset Still’s disease (AOSD)

5.3 Ilaris cost in Canada

Ilaris is a highly recommended drug in Canada and quite expensive too. This Canadian drug is about 10 to 15 times higher in price than other treatments for SJIA. 

Thus, they are unlikely to be cost-effective at current prices for either treatment-experienced or treatment-naive with SJIA.

According to a database for Canada drug expenditure for the fiscal year 2018/2019, Ilaris is among the most expensive Canadian drugs cost above 140000 Canadian dollars per patient per year.

At the same time, the current annual price of this Canadian drug is $208,000 to $416,000 per patient per year. 

Even a reduction in the price of this Canadian drug by approximately 90% would be required to make it a cost-effective treatment option compared with other treatment options from other Canadian drugs. To know more, click here.

Canadian Drugs

By Feverpitched/Unlimphotos

Closing Thoughts

Hence, healthcare in Canada is properly maintained, and Canadian drugs are well-researched. 

One last thing to keep in mind is that many respective countries create fulfillment centers for premium range prescription drugs and medical devices. Still, none can stand the quality for the great price of these great Canadian prescriptions. That is what makes it worthwhile, not its cost.

Though some are expensive, due to the population’s growing needs, the government tries through various programs and themes with a future prediction to make these costly Canadian drugs available for normal Citizens at the lowest price possible.

Now, if you are planning on visiting any affiliated Canadian dispensing pharmacy, we recommend that you instead visit its official website, specifically to learn what its safety measures are and, more importantly, what customer group it serves.

We hope you learn something more about these amazing Canadian Drugs. If you have something to add to the discussion, let us know with your comment below.

  1. Lexchin, Joel. “Health Canada’s Proposal to Accelerate New Drug Reviews.” Healthcare Policy 15.4 (2020): 26. ↩︎
  2. Guidon, Amanda C., and Anthony A. Amato. “COVID-19 and neuromuscular disorders.” Neurology 94.22 (2020): 959-969. ↩︎
  3. Hannah, William B., et al. “Glycogen storage diseases.” Nature Reviews Disease Primers 9.1 (2023): 46. ↩︎
  4. Frampton, James E. “Eculizumab: a review in neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder.” Drugs 80.7 (2020): 719-727. ↩︎
  5. Bektas, Meryem, et al. “Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria: current treatments and unmet needs.” Journal of managed care & specialty pharmacy 26.12-b Suppl (2020): S14-S20. ↩︎
  6. Avila Bernabeu, Ana Isabel, Teresa Cavero Escribano, and Mercedes Cao Vilarino. “Atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome: new challenges in the complement blockage era.” Nephron 144.11 (2020): 537-549. ↩︎
  7. Bubuioc, Ana-Maria, et al. “The epidemiology of myasthenia gravis.” Journal of medicine and life 14.1 (2021): 7. ↩︎
  8. Burrow, Thomas A., and Gregory A. Grabowski. “Velaglucerase alfa in the treatment of Gaucher disease type 1.” Clinical investigation 1.2 (2011): 285. ↩︎
  9. Davis, Pamela B., Uma Yasothan, and Peter Kirkpatrick. “Ivacaftor.” Nature reviews Drug discovery 11.5 (2012): 349-351. ↩︎
  10. Bell, Scott C., et al. “The future of cystic fibrosis care: a global perspective.” The Lancet Respiratory Medicine 8.1 (2020): 65-124. ↩︎
  11. Papadopoulou, Charalampia, and Helen J. Lachmann. “Tumor Necrosis Factor Receptor-Associated Periodic Syndrome (TRAPS).” Periodic and Non-Periodic Fevers (2020): 235-245. ↩︎
  12. Tomaras, Stylianos, et al. “Adult-onset Still’s disease: clinical aspects and therapeutic approach.” Journal of clinical medicine 10.4 (2021): 733. ↩︎

Last Updated on by Sanjana


  • Neha Yadav

    I am an professional content writer who knows the basics of creating a public engaging content and works to mould her thoughts into words.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *