Health Canada delaying new drug pricing regulations another six months

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Canadians pay one of the highest prices in the world for new medicines still protected by patents.  Add to that, the recent COVID-19 experience of Canada having no drug processing facilities anywhere in the country, and the third delay in the new drug pricing regulations all adding up to a perfect storm for Canada’s healthcare sector.

So, what’s the answer?  Canada seems to be walking a tight-rope between legislation – that some think is too much – and doing nothing to improve the current situation. How do Canadians get reasonably priced medications and stay forefront for the newest medications available?

The issue seems to be drug accessibility and innovation in Canada.  The Patented Medicine Prices Review Board is charged with ensuring that these new drugs are accessible and fairly priced – and these changes (after two delays) are now scheduled to take effect January 1, 2022.

In a statement on its website, Innovative Medicines Canada said it views the most recent delay as a “renewed opportunity to examine the potential impact of these reforms, as well as affording time to generate more effective alternative solutions.”

Meanwhile, Canada’s life and health insurers continue to support the amendments and guidelines.

“Canada’s life and health insurers remain strong supporters of these changes,” said the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association in an emailed statement to Benefits Canada.

“These guidelines are an important step to allow the PMPRB (Patented Medicine Prices Review Board) to continue to meet its mandate to protect Canadians from excessive prescription drug prices.  Through workplace benefit plans, insurers provide employers and their employees with access to over 11,000 patented medicines — which include an increasing number of high-cost drugs. Lower drug costs will help to keep these workplace plans sustainable. We are disappointed that the implementation of these reforms has been further delayed and encourage the government to move forward in July with no further delays.”

Pressure from some of the leading pharmaceutical companies on the federal government seems to be the stumbling block in getting these measures implemented.

Read the full article here: Benefits Canada –  The Canadian Press, with files from staff, June 30, 2021



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