04/11/2013 03:04 EDT | Updated 06/11/2013 05:12 EDT

Spending on drugs grows at slowest rate in 16 years, new report suggests

TORONTO - A new report suggests spending on drugs in Canada continues to grow, but at the slowest rate in 16 years.

The report says the slowed growth in prescription drug spending is due to the fact that patents expired for several blockbuster drugs, which meant people could buy cheaper generic versions of the medications.

The report says Canadians spent $33 billion on drugs in 2012, or an average of $947 per person.

The report, from the Canadian Institute for Health Information, says drugs continue to make up the second-largest share of health spending, after hospitals and ahead of the cost of doctors's salaries.

Drugs made up 16 per cent of health spending in 2012.

And prescription drugs made up 84 per cent of total drug spending in 2012.

Another factor in the slowing of the growth of drug spending was a change in generic drug pricing policies.

The report notes that many public drug programs reduced the amount they would pay for generic drugs. That has led to prices for many of those drugs being capped at between 25 per cent and 40 per cent of the cost of their brand name competitors.