JUNE 22, 2022

TELUS releases annual Health Drug Data Trends Report 2022: Pandemic side effects include rise in medications for depression and ADHD

TELUS Health forecasts that by the end of 2026, specialty drugs can account for almost half of the average eligible amount per insured person and dependants

Toronto - Today, TELUS Health issued its annual
2022 Drug Data Trends and National Benchmarks Report
, revealing that while fewer Canadians submitted prescription drug claims in 2021, there was a noticeable increase in the number of claims for mental health related medications during the second year of the pandemic. Specialty medications for chronic conditions continued to make a bigger impact on insurance plan spending and on the eligible amount per insured, with growth rates at approximately 10 per cent.
“The report shows a noticeable increase in ADHD medication and antidepressants in 2021. With work-from-home and hybrid workstyles now the norm, it is clear that the pandemic created unique challenges for Canadians, impacting both their mental and physical health,” said Shawn O’Brien, Principal, Data Enablement and HBM Product, TELUS Health.
The report helps paint a picture of how COVID-19 impacted overall claims due to delayed diagnosis and surgeries as well as the ability to secure new prescriptions. While the antibiotics/anti-infectives category continued to be the top category by number of claimants, the share of claimants dropped significantly in 2020, and again in 2021.
“The number of claims for antibiotics and anti-infectives in 2021 were impacted by the pandemic. Postponed surgeries, fewer appointments with prescribers, including dentists, and public-health measures, such as wearing masks, led to lower rates of infection,” said Caroline Le Pottier, Consultant Pharmacist, TELUS Health. “This backlog in diagnoses and treatments will likely have a spill-over effect for years to come, especially since patients claimed to have avoided seeking medical care for various serious conditions through the pandemic.”
Published annually since 2015, the TELUS Health Drug Data Trends and National Benchmarks Report is based on claim activities of more than 10 million insured Canadians in 2021, and provides a contextual view of adoption rates of plan management trends to help insurers and employers alike understand major trends in prescription drug utilization.The report provides a snapshot of the previous year and compares it to five years ago, drawing upon drug claims activities from the largest private payer Pharmacy Benefit Manager (PBM) in Canada.
Other 2022 key findings include:
A steadfast rise in neurodivergent and mental health claimants
  • In 2021, upward trends in the use of therapeutic drugs included treatment for neurodivergent conditions such as depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which rose to fourth position (out of 10) and sixth position, respectively.
  • Five years ago, medications like Vyvanse and Concerta, used to treat neurodivergent-related disorders such as ADHD and narcolepsy, ranked 10th, while in 2021, these medications surpassed cancer medications. It could be noted that online schooling may have been a contributing factor behind the increased diagnosis of ADHD, for children who found it even more difficult to focus in front of a screen.
Cost and utilization trends continue to be dominated by use of specialty medications for chronic conditions
  • Specialty drugs continue to make a bigger impact on overall utilization trends than traditional drugs.
  • The top three specialty medications include those for rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and cancer.
  • Assuming current trends continue, TELUS Health forecasts that by the end of 2026, specialty drugs can account for almost half of the average eligible amount per certificate (insured person and dependants).
Cost, Consumer Price Index (CPI) and plan management
  • Average annual eligible amount per claimant was $928.30 for 2021, six per cent higher than in 2020. While this is a moderately high gain when assessing a five-year period, it is notably less than the jump of 13.9 per cent in 2020.
  • The average number of claims per claimant in Canada was 11.1 claims for the year, up from 10.3 in 2019 prior to the pandemic.
  • Atlantic Canada continues to experience the highest volume of specialty drug claims, accounting for 41 per cent of the eligible amount, which is attributed to disease epidemiology (i.e. rare diseases are more prevalent in Atlantic Canada).
  • Specialty drugs have a much lower impact in Western Canada, due to the provincial pharmacare or universal drug plans available in B.C., Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
About TELUS Health
TELUS Health is a leader in digital health technology, providing virtual care, home health monitoring, electronic medical and health records, benefits and pharmacy management, and personal emergency response services. By leveraging the power of technology to deliver connected solutions and services, TELUS Health is improving access to care and revolutionizing the flow of information while facilitating collaboration, efficiency, and productivity for physicians, pharmacists, health authorities, allied healthcare professionals, insurers, employers, and citizens, to progress its vision of transforming healthcare and empowering people to live healthier lives.Through the TELUS Health Care Centres, teams of renowned and passionate healthcare professionals deliver best-in-class patient-centric care to thousands of Canadian employers, professionals, and families in more than 15 medical clinics located across the country. For more information please visit:
For media inquiries, please contact:
Jill Yetman
TELUS Public Relations
[email protected]