NPDUIS Research Agenda

The National Prescription Drug Utilization Information System (NPDUIS) is a research initiative established by federal, provincial, and territorial Ministers of Health in September 2001. It provides policy makers and public drug plan managers with critical analyses of price, utilization and cost trends so that Canada’s health care system has more comprehensive and accurate information on how prescription drugs are being used and on sources of cost pressures.

The NPDUIS Research Agenda reflects the current analytical priorities identified by the NPDUIS Advisory Committee. NPDUIS analyses are released as published reports, posters and slide presentations.

The following reports are anticipated for completion and publication in 2017-18 and 2018-19.

Annual publications


This publication monitors and analyzes the cost pressures driving changes in prescription drug expenditures in Canadian public drug plans, including increases in the use of higher-cost drugs, the number of beneficiaries, and the volume of drugs used, as well as cost savings from price reductions and generic and biosimilar substitutions. It is a key resource for policy makers and researchers – informing policy discussions and aiding decision-makers in understanding, anticipating and responding to evolving cost pressures.

Meds Entry Watch

New medicines being launched in Canadian and international markets are featured in this PMPRB publication that explores market entry dynamics from the perspective of availability, sales, launch sequence, market penetration and price comparisons. A new section on biosimilars, highlighting recent market entries, potential price discounts and uptake, will be added to the next issue. This information supports policy makers and other stakeholders in anticipating the availability and pricing of new medicines based on international experience.

Meds Pipeline Monitor

This report series, which replaces the New Drug Pipeline Monitor, provides a high-level scan of emerging medicines that have the potential to impact the treatment management of specific therapeutic classes in Canada. A selection of medicines, including a feature section on biosimilars, is highlighted in each edition of the report and monitored over time. This report aids in anticipating the market entry of new medicines, and together with the Meds Entry Watch report, builds a full picture of the new and emerging medicine landscape.

Report series

Market Intelligence Reports

This series of reports provides short, targeted analyses of therapeutic market segments of importance to Canadians. It highlights the uptake in utilization, market shares, pricing and treatment costs of the related drug class, and identifies opportunities for potential cost savings. These studies are designed to inform policy discussions, aid in evidence-based decision making, and provide Canadians with a more comprehensive view of issues pertaining to pharmaceutical drug pricing and utilization.

The first report in this series explored the market impact of biologic disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). Upcoming reports will focus on new drugs for age-related macular degeneration and drugs for type 2 diabetes.


This series monitors and reports on the latest developments in generic drug pricing and markets in Canada and compares them with those of other industrialized countries. It analyzes the issue of generic pricing in Canada from various angles, including reference brand-name prices, international generic prices, and market segmentation.

Private Drug Plans in Canada

This series of three reports analyzes trends in Canadian private drug plans, the second largest market for prescribed drugs in Canada, accounting for approximately one-third of all prescribed drug spending. It provides policy makers and researchers with information on relevant trends, sources of cost pressures, and possible areas for cost-saving opportunities.

The first report, published in 2015, focused on the generic market. The second part of the series will identify the major factors driving drug costs and dispensing fees in private drug plans, complementing the analysis included in the CompassRx. The third report will focus on the impact of high-cost drugs and beneficiaries.

Alignment Among Public Formularies in Canada

This three-part series compares the coverage for medicines across provincial and federal public drug plans. The information contained in these reports will inform the dialogue on improving the affordability and accessibility of necessary prescription medicines, including exploring the need for a national formulary.

The first report, published in 2017, provided a general overview, comparing the public plan listings for 729 selected medicines, accounting for 82% of the total public plan costs for medicines in 2015. The second and third parts will focus on newer medicines reviewed through the Common Drug Review (CDR) and oncology medicines assessed through the pan-Canadian Oncology Drug Review (pCODR) process, respectively.

Note: NPDUIS has been closely monitoring the emerging biosimilar market, and has reported on it in past analyses. Given the continued importance and rapid evolution of this market segment, analyses on biosimilars will be featured in the upcoming editions of CompassRx, Meds Entry Watch and the Meds Pipeline Monitor. These ongoing analyses will replace the previously planned research report on Potential Savings from Biosimilars in Canada.

The NPDUIS Research Agenda is updated regularly in consultation with the NPDUIS Advisory Committee.

Analytical studies are based on approved research proposals developed in consultation with the NPDUIS Advisory Committee and interested stakeholders. Specific research proposals are available upon request, and any feedback provided will be considered during the development of the project.
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