My question is for Mr. Williams. You talked about the price of medication. As you said, and as we know, the price of medication goes down as a result of the price of generics. Large corporations have merged and only the most profitable remain.
Moreover, I would like to raise an interesting point regarding the price of medication for consumers. Since the early years of 2000, the average expenditure on medications per person was $329. Nine years later, this figure had more than doubled and the average was $736.
Despite the fact that drugs may be generating less profit, the demand is, nevertheless, growing throughout the country and particularly in Quebec. Quebeckers and Canadians are therefore spending more of their income on medication. I had cited the figure of $736 for 2009. This is an increase of 5.4% compared to 2008. Once again, we can see that the pharmaceutical sector is doing very well financially.
I am going to discuss some more specific numbers from 2009. On average, an individual taking Lipitor to reduce blood cholesterol levels will pay $800 per year. That amount represents a sizable amount of his income. In the case of Remicade, used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, the cost is $32,000; Effexor, used to treat depression, costs $450; and Nexium, used to prevent ulcers, costs $800 per year. So these patients have to pay large amounts of money.
There is another issue that worries me and also concerns consumers. We know that the hospitals pay a fixed price. However, when people go through their private insurance companies to pay for their medication, there is a large discrepancy in the price. The magazine Protégez-Vous, which you are no doubt familiar with, did an investigation in 2010 on the various prices charged by pharmacies for the same drug.