Launches of New Medicines in Canada Declined Consistently in Recent Years: New Data

Launches of New Medicines in Canada Declined Consistently in Recent Years: New Data

Launches of New Medicines in Canada Declined Consistently in Recent Years: New Data

Canadians waiting longer for new treatments as Canada slips from its traditional position as a top-priority country for new medicine launches

TORONTO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The launches of new medicines in Canada declined consistently and markedly in Canada over the past five years as ongoing changes to the pharmaceutical policy environment, including federal medicine pricing reforms (i.e., PMPRB reforms), have caused uncertainty about the Canadian market.

At the request of Life Sciences Ontario, IQVIA, a global leader in health data and analytics, reviewed how Canada’s performance in launching new treatments compares to other countries over time.

Data from the past 20 years show that until 2016, when new pharmaceutical pricing reforms were announced, Canadians were gradually getting more extensive access to therapies relative to other countries. Since then, however, the number of launches of new active drug substances (i.e., innovative therapies as opposed to new versions of existing ones) has declined every year and lags behind the number of launches seen globally, and particularly in the United States.

The data show that for the past five years (2017-21), there were an average of 34 annual new medicine launches globally but an average of just 20 per year in Canada. This means Canadians have less access to innovative medicines that treat diseases such as cancer and rare disorders than their neighbours south of the border.

As well, the report shows that in 2021, Canada experienced the longest time to launch new medicines since 2012, with new treatments launched that year having a median delay time since the first global launch of 2.1 years. This placed Canada ninth out of the top 23 countries, compared to a ranking of fourth over the past 20 years.

‘Findings very concerning’

“These new findings are very concerning because they show innovative treatments are not getting to Canadians in a timely fashion, to the detriment of their health and well-being,” said Dr. Jason Field, President and CEO of Life Sciences Ontario.

“However, I am optimistic,” Dr. Field added, noting that “the federal government’s decision to drop the most problematic aspects of the PMPRB reforms and the roll out of multiple life sciences strategies across Canada – including Ontario’s first ever plan for the sector – are opportunities that can get us back on track. Life Sciences Ontario looks forward to engaging on the upcoming PMPRB guidelines consulation and working with government partners to improve the policy and commercial environment.”

BIOQuebec’s Executive director, Anie Perrault, who hosted the French webinar on the results of the study, agreed. “The new data demonstrates the need to continue to work with governments and all stakeholders to accelerate access to health innovations. It’s especially important for Quebec, as it just renewed its Life Sciences Strategy, which emphasizes access to innovative medicines in its fifth objective.”

The complete report is available here.

About the research

Funded by LSO, IQVIA conducted the research using its global launch and sales database (MIDAS) to retrospectively assess global launch sequencing of new active substances. The database covers 93 countries and more than 10,000 active pharmaceutical ingredients. For this study, data were used from the top 25 countries by global pharma market sales in 2021, excluding Austria and Sweden due to launch data quality. Launch date was defined as the date of first sales and/or manufacturer launch. Inclusion criteria for the new active substances studied were that the first global launch at the molecule level was in 2002-2021, it is used in human therapy, has been approved by officially recognized governmental bodies (e.g. FDA), is commercially available in at least one of the U.S., Europe or Canada, and that it is the global first launched branded pharmaceutical. The exclusion criteria were generics and biosimilars, new indications, new combinations or new salts or other forms of existing substances, drug delivery systems and other non-active substances, natural products and vitamins, blood products, vaccines and products launched in only one country or where data were not available. Research was conducted on a cross-section of MIDAS data. Results may vary due to potential reporting delays and refreshes in the data. See further details in the complete report.

About Life Sciences Ontario

Life Sciences Ontario (LSO) is a not-for-profit organization that represents and promotes Ontario’s vibrant and diverse life sciences sector. Members of LSO include life sciences companies, entrepreneurs, members of academia, and service providers from many different areas of the life sciences ecosystem, including biopharmaceuticals, agriculture, agri-food, the bioeconomy, medical devices, animal health, environmental technologies, and more. Ultimately, our mission is to encourage commercial success throughout this diverse sector by collaborating with governments, academia, industry and other life sciences organizations in Ontario and across Canada.

About BIOQuébec

BIOQuébec represents more than 160 Quebec-based companies working in health research at all stages of the innovation process, from basic research to the integration of therapeutic innovation into the health system. They include biotechs, contract research organizations, investors, and biopharmaceutical companies at various developmental phases. BIOQuébec focuses on government representations, business development, and partnerships to foster the growth of Quebec’s biotechnology and life sciences industry and position the province as one of this sector’s integral key players internationally.


Don Sancton
3Sixty Public Affairs


Life Sciences Ontario