Generic and Branded Drugs Prices in Canadian Drugstores

Generic and Branded Drugs Prices in Canadian Drugstores

Seasonal ailments such as the common cold or gastrointestinal disease leave many victims. Often, the prescription in hand, we run to the nearest pharmacy, buy the drugs prescribed by our doctor as soon as possible to be finally relieved. We compare, we try to avoid paying too much for almost everything, except the price of drugs. Pharmacists know this and do not hesitate to sell us our pills at high prices in general indifference. It is possible with a few simple tips to lower the price of medicines. This article is part of the advice to spend less while enjoying more of life. Discover them all here!

How to Know the Price of Drugs?

Obviously finding out the price of drugs is more and more complicated. 70% of over-the-counter boxes in pharmacies have no label, half of the medicines are on display stands behind the pharmacists’ counter. It is therefore impossible for the consumer to know what he will pay before buying. Moreover, only 40% of pharmacists systematically issue a sales receipt.

To find out the price of reimbursed medicines, you can use the public database of medicines available on some aggregator websites such as Medicare.

In pharmacies

In addition, pharmacists are free to set their prices, from one pharmacy to another the price can be 2 to 3 times more expensive. There even were prices 4 times higher from one pharmacy to another. Boxes of over-the-counter drugs are often not labeled. The prices are displayed on the displays. For products placed behind the counter, it is better in some cases to have a good view to discern the price. Difficult to compare, if you have to systematically ask the price of each drug. In addition, few pharmacists automatically issue a receipt. However, this is a practical way to keep track of the price paid. Is the situation more acceptable on the Internet?


Self-service drugs are on average 25% cheaper on the Internet than in regular pharmacies. Price variations are also more contained on the internet from one store to another. This is not a quick fix but the shipping costs charged by online Canadian drugstores may be often so high (from $6 to $10) that they become dissuasive but again not always. Buying through may be that exception where shipping is occasionally offered for free, however, you should contact the customer support representative to be on the same page with final cost while shopping.

Then, pharmacies are required to display the logo which guarantees the approval of the NAPRA. So do not buy a drug on a website that does not have this logo. Online sales allow a more practical and quick comparison of prices. So do not hesitate to fill your basket on several sites and then check once the delivery amount added, which is the cheapest. Finally, do not give additional personal information such as the name of your mutual insurance company. Be careful, self-medication can be dangerous! Remember, that you do not only pay for the product, but also for advice of the pharmacist which can avoid overdoses or treatment errors.

In supermarkets

Certain non-drug products such as physiological saline or infant milk are sold in pharmacies and in supermarkets. In this case, you will need to compare prices again. Big box stores are not necessarily more advantageous than a corner store. Price differences vary widely between products and places of sale. In supermarkets, prices are clearly displayed and a sales receipt will be given to you. The next time you go shopping, take a little detour from this department to compare prices with peace of mind. In the same way that we compare the price of our vegetables from one store to another, we must compare the price of drugs from one pharmacy to another. Do not assume that it will necessarily be cheaper than in pharmacies, this is far from always the case.

As mentioned at the beginning of the article, pharmacists are free to set the price of over-the-counter drugs, but not all of their pharmacy drugs.

Who Sets the Price of Drugs?

Free-priced drugs

After obtaining marketing authorization, a pharmaceutical company can freely set the price of its medicine. The drugs the price of which is not framed are generally those which are freely available in your pharmacy. You will be able to see all the prices for the same drug from one pharmacy to another. From $1,50 to $5,50 for a strictly identical paracetamol blister or from $3 to $5 for a cough syrup. A pharmacist sets his prices freely. The pharmacist’s only obligation is to clearly display the price of the drug.

But even if the price is displayed, it is hard to know if it is a good price or not. And then, when it hurts somewhere, we do not necessarily have the patience to go around all the pharmacies in the town to compare.

Reimbursed drugs

On the other hand, if a company wants its medicine to be reimbursed by social security, it must make a request. The dossier must be submitted to Medicare for examination.

After studying the file and the available scientific data, the public bodies write a scientific opinion in which it evaluates the rendered medical service and the improvement of the rendered medical service by the drug. The final opinion is then sent through Canada Health Transfer.

Branded medicines often have an equivalent reimbursed by social security. Their price is set by the public authorities and is almost always cheaper than their self-service equivalent.

How to Lower the Price of Drugs?

The price of over-the-counter drugs frequently used by families has increased by 9,5% in 10 years. Some prices are literally soaring like that of the Nurofen which has jumped 30% in 8 years. We understand the willingness of an increasing number of patients to look for ways to spend less on their drugs.

Medical experts recall that such diseases as cold spontaneously heals, and in case of use of cold easing products, the duration of the intake should not exceed 5 days. So, the first useful advice would already be not to self-medicate when it can be avoided (ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice).

At the moment of prescription

Upon prescription, you can ask a doctor to prescribe drugs covered by social security. Often doctors do it naturally, but it costs nothing to ask clearly.

For long-term treatments limit the medical deductible

A deductible of $0,50 is deducted from each box of medicine you buy (maximum $50 per year). In other words, if your doctor prescribes 4 boxes of medication, Medicare will deduct $2 from your reimbursement. So, if you have a treatment for several months, ask your pharmacist if there is not the same drug but in larger packaging.

If you take for example, a box in large packaging rather than taking 6 normal boxes you will save $3,50 on your purchase. This deductible only concerns prescription drugs, not self-medication. The amount of a deductible cannot be covered by complementary health insurance. So, you are the one paying for it.

The right choice at the pharmacy

Sometimes you do not consult your doctor when you have some mild symptoms to treat (headache, etc.). We go straight to the pharmacy to get our box of painkillers. And this is where you have to be very, very careful because the prices of drugs are very different from one pharmacy to another.

Over-the-counter drugs

As mentioned before, when you are sick, you do not really have enough patience to go around pharmacies to compare prices. It is therefore better to do it when everything is going well. Create a list of the drugs commonly used in your family and visit the pharmacies in the town. You will find easily and quickly, the cheapest. When the time comes, you will know exactly which pharmacy to get your pills at the best price. Beyond that, with the internet sellers, it is also possible to have an idea of ​​the prices charged.

Buying Generic Drugs

The same drug can be sold at different prices in different packaging and names. For two identical ibuprofens, Nureflex (200gr) in a box of 20 tablets is 60% cheaper than Nurofen (200mg). The box of 20 tablets of Efferalgan prominently displayed in the pharmacy is sold from $2,50 to $4 depending on the case. While their generic equivalent is sold $1,80 to $2,0.

So, if you buy a drug without a prescription, ask your pharmacist for a reimbursable drug with the same active substance. For medicines prescribed by the doctor, a patient who prefers the original formula will only be reimbursed on the basis of the price of the generic medicine. The difference remaining at his expense. On average, generics are 35 to 45% cheaper than brand name drugs. So, the statement ‘non-substitutable with a generic’ which doctors may note on the prescription, is now reserved for exceptional cases.

If a patient refuses to take the generic, he must also pay a pharmacist the full price of the original drug delivered (no third-party payment) and send a care sheet to his health insurance fund to be reimbursed. Coverage by Medicare is therefore both reduced and delayed if the patient refuses the generic medication without a medically justified ‘non-substitutable’ statement.

Incomprehensible Prices

Despite your efforts to spend less on your pills, some drugs are overpriced for no good reason. Take the example of insulin, which is the basic treatment for diabetics. The prices are unrelated to the cost of production.

In the United States, the price has increased threefold over the past ten years, without objective reason, going from $230 in 2010 to $730 per month. Do we have to remember that insulin was discovered a hundred years ago and that its patent was sold for a dollar, in order to allow a massive distribution and a free access? Between Sanofi, Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly, there are three of them holding the market. Great success! Diabetes is in any case a lucrative market with more than 400 million patients, and still growing given the rapid increase in the number of cases.

NB: This website does not replace the advice of a doctor or a pharmacist in the choice of a drug. Each medicine with different excipients is chosen with the help of a healthcare professional.