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Spending on hepatitis C antivirals in the United States and Canada, 2014 to 2018

Shakeri A, Srimurugathasan N, Suda KJ, Gomes T, Tadrous M. Value Health. 2020; 23(9):1137-41. Epub 2020 Jul 28. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jval.2020.03.021


Objectives — Hepatitis C virus (HCV) antivirals have been shown to be highly effective with minimal adverse effects, but they are costly. Little is known about the national spending on this drug class in either Canada or the United States, 2 countries with different drug pricing regulations. Thus the objective of this study was to compare drug expenditure on HCV medications in the United States and Canada.

Methods — This was a retrospective cross-sectional study using the IQVIA National Sales Perspectives (United States) and Geographic Prescription Monitor (Canada) databases, which contains prescription transactions from American and Canadian pharmacies. All prescription claims for the period between January 1, 2014, and June 30, 2018, were used to describe HCV antiviral expenditure in both countries.

Results — The United States and Canada spent $59.7 billion and $2.8 billion on HCV medications, respectively. Population-adjusted HCV medication costs were higher in the United States ($1 million per 100 000 population) compared with Canada ($0.4 million per 100 000 population).

Conclusions — Although the rates of HCV infection are similar in the 2 countries, these findings highlight the differences in both the reimbursement utilization policy for HCV treatments in the countries and the major differences in drug pricing policies. As policies to reduce drug spending in the United States are explored, this article highlights the potential cost implications of implementing Canadian index pricing.

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