Top 5 Most Expensive Canadian Drugs

canadian drugs

In a comprehensive study of health systems worldwide, Canada’s healthcare system ranked 9th in the top 11 countries. To know more, click here.

Health Canada

By Luis Melendez, Unsplash, copyrighted

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, evaluates. It monitors the whole process of safe and quality production of Canadian drugs for the citizens. The healthcare models are both public and private-funded, out of which the public-funded healthcare system is more developed. To know more about the Canadian Healthcare system, click here. 


Despite having a system of health care that public funds and most medications pay for are available to the citizens at a much lower rate. Still, some medicines are extremely expensive but are in-demand
This article will talk about the Five most dispensed Canadian drugs in the country, expensive yet in-demand.

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 panel (HDAP) classified the drug under category two new medicine.


What is Pompe disease?

Pomp disease is a rare, progressive, debilitating, and fatal neuromuscular disorder. It is also known as acid maltase deficiency or glycogen storage disease type ii is mainly caused due to lack of an enzyme called acid alpha-glucosidase, which is needed to break down glycogen in the body.

Dosage of Myozyme

The drug Myozyme is given as an intervenous infusion once every two weeks, and This drug is shown to improve ventilator-free survival in patients with infantile-onset pomp as compared to other historical treatments.

Myozyme  introduction under Canada Drugs

The drug was patent under Canada drugs under the patentee called GENZYME CANADA iNC. It was the earliest marketed data record in the drug product database. The date of issuance of the first patents of the medicine was April 29, 2008. To know more, click here.

Myozyme cost in Canada

According to a database for Canada drugs 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 per year. Since Myozyme is an effective treatment of Pompe disease, this drug has huge demand in Canada. To know more, click here.


  • Soliris (eculizumab)

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


What is (aHUS)?

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.

Dosage of Soliris

Soliris is given through an infusion into a vein intravenous (IV) process like other Canadian drugs prescribed for the same method.

Soliris introduction under Canada 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, including children and adults affected with paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria and atypicality hemolytic uremic syndrome (aHUS).

Later, it was approved for use in adult patients with generalized Myasthenia Gravis (GMG) in 2013. To know more about the full marketing authorization of Soliris in Canada, click here. Thus, Soliris became the only drug among persisting Canadian drugs to treat aHUS.

Soliris cost in Canada,

Although there isn’t much population affected by this drug in Canada, it still worked as a boon for the patients in  Canada. Hence it was also in demand despite its expensive nature. According to data on Canada’s drugs expenditure for the fiscal year of 2019/2018, it cost about 46 thousand Canadian dollars per patient.  To know more, click here. Currently, Its treatment cost ranges between $500,000 to $700,000 per year.


  • Vpriv (velaglucerase alfa)

Vpriv is a brand name for a medical formula called Velaglucerase alfa. It is a hydrolytic lysosomal glucocerebroside-specific enzyme, a recombinant form of glucocerebrosidase 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 1/60,000, and the prevalence is estimated to be 1/100,000.

What is Gaucher disease?

Gaucher disease is a type of disease which 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 causes enlargement of organs, hence hindering their normal functioning.
The treatment of this disease involves an enzyme replacement therapy in which the enzymes which dissolve the fats are infused.

Dosage of Vpriv (velaglucerase alfa)

The vpriv is injected into the body of patients through long-term ERT ( Enzyme replacement theory). The dose is given through a sterile, preservative-free, lyophilized powder in single-use vials containing 400 units for intravenous use.

Vpriv introduction under Canada 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 velaglucerase alfa clinical development program, which represents the largest and most comprehensive clinical data set supporting registration for an ERT for type 1 Gaucher disease.

Vpriv cost in Canada

Though the number of Gaucher type one patients is limited, the vpriv is the most preferred drug among others Canda drugs for this disease’s treatment due to its efficiency. According to the data on expensive Canda drugs in 2018/2019, the vpriv cost about 322,482 Canadian dollars per patient per year. To know more, click here. Currently, 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 dose of treatment (range: 30 U/kg to 60 U/kg), respectively.



  • Kalydeco (ivacaftor)

Kalydeco is a brand name of the medical formula called Ivacaftor. This drug, included under Canadian drugs, treats cystic fibrosis in people with various mutations in their cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator gene. This drug has been proved to be effective for treating cystic fibrosis (CF) in people with more than 97 different kinds of CFTR mutations.

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.

Dosage of Kalydeco

Kalydeco is prescribed for cystic fibrosis (CF) patients aged four months and older with at least one mutation in their CF gene that is responsive to KALYDECO. It is a novel gene-based therapy for the treatment of CF. Patients are given doses in the form of pills twice a day, depending on their age and weight.

Kalydeco introduction under Canada drugs.

The drug Kalydeco was first approved by Health Canada in November 2012 to be included under 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, the Kalydeco became the first and only drug among other  Canada drugs approved by Canada Healthcare to be used to treat Cystic Fibrosis in children at a young age.

Kalydeco cost in Canada.

Kalydeco has been proved to effective drug against cystic fibrosis all over the world. In Canada, people with these mutations are about 4% of the cystic fibrosis population worldwide. Hence this drug is quite in in-demand despite its expensive cost.
According to the data on expensive Canda 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 know more, click here.


  • Ilaris (Canakinumab)

Ilaris is a brand name for the medical formula called Canakinumab. This medication is used to treat active Still’s a disease, including 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 syndrome (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)

What is Still’s disease?

Still’s disease is a life-threatening autoinflammatory disease with two of its forms.
One in the childhood form, known as systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis (SJIA), and another in adult form, called adult-onset Still’s a disease (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, Canada was approximately 394,3.

Dosage of Ilaris

Though the cause of Still’s disease is unknown, the drug Ilaris works by blocking the effects of IL1, a type of cytokine regulating the body’s immune system. The blocking, in turn, suppressed the inflammation in patients of still’s disease. Ilaris generally works after seven days of its one dose, and the drug is prescribed for four weeks based on the patient’s weight.
The dose of the drug is given through a subcutaneous method that is is injected through a short needle into the fatty tissue just under the skin.

Ilaris introduction under Canada Drugs

Although the still’s disease is rare in Canada, still the Ilaris was included under the 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 patients two years and older. 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 has approved Ilaris for the treatment of adult-onset Still’s disease (AOSD)


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, the Ilaris is among the most expensive Canadian drugs that 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.


Hence, healthcare in Canada is properly maintained, and the Canadian drugs are well researched. Though some are expensive, due to the growing needs of the population, the government tries through various programs and themes with a future prediction to make these costly Canadian drugs available for the normal Citizens at as lowest price possible.

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