10/14/2014 08:59 EDT | Updated 12/14/2014 05:59 EST

Generic Drug Prices In Canada Nearly Double Those In Other Countries

Adrianna Williams via Getty Images

OTTAWA - A new study has found that Canadians are still paying far more than other industrialized countries for generic drugs, despite recent efforts by the provinces and territories to bulk buy six particularly costly medications.

The study by the University of Ottawa and the Bruyere Research Institute says the price of the six drugs — which include medications used to treat high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels — remains much higher in Canada than it is elsewhere.

It adds that while Canadians are saving some money under the bulk-purchasing scheme, they're still spending much more than those in the UK, Germany, New Zealand, Sweden and the United States.

In April 2013, the provinces and territories reached an agreement to pay significantly lower prices for the six drugs. The medications account for about 20 per cent of publicly funded spending on drugs.

They expected the lower price they paid for the generics — just 18 per cent of the cost for the brand-name drug — would save Canadians up to $100 million.

But one of the study's authors says Canadian prices are actually more than double those of peer countries.

Jason Nickerson, a clinical investigator at Bruyere, also noted that some of those countries were buying the medications from a Canadian company, Apotex, at substantially lower prices than what Canadians are paying.

New Zealanders pay 87 per cent less for the blood pressure medication amlodipine, for example, while veterans in the U.S. pay 94 per cent lower for the anti-depressant venlafaxine.

The study faults the provinces and territories for establishing a set price ceiling for generics at 18 per cent of the cost of brand-name drugs, saying they could drive harder bargains with a national competitive bidding process of the type that thrives in other countries.

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