Federal government announces positive changes to drug pricing regulations

August 9, 2019

Canada’s unions applaud today’s announcement by the federal government of new measures updating Canada’s drug-pricing regulations.

“Many life-saving medicines are unaffordable. This new framework will better protect Canadians from skyrocketing drug prices by lowering the cost of brand name medicines,” said CLC President Hassan Yussuff. “This is a good step towards a universal public pharmacare program in Canada.”

Canada currently compares prices with the US and Switzerland—two countries with some of the world’s highest drug prices—when setting its maximum prices for patented drugs. These new regulations no longer require consideration of US and Swiss pricing, instead allowing the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board (PMPRB) to set maximum prices for patented drugs based on other countries with economies and health-care systems similar to Canada.

The updated framework also provides better reporting on drug prices including list prices and discounts offered to third parties like insurance companies. The PMPRB will also have the authority to determine whether drug prices correspond to value to patients and to the healthcare system.

The existing framework used by the PMPRB has not adequately protected Canadians from excessively high prices for patented medicines over the last 30 years. Since 1987, prescription drug costs in Canada have increased at an average annual rate of 7.3%, or over 3 times the inflation rate.

“Canadians have been paying some of the highest prices for patented medicines in the world because the old regulations allowed big pharmaceutical companies to set their prices based on market evaluations, and not on what individuals could actually afford,” said Yussuff.

“Big pharmaceutical companies have continued to renege on their promises to invest 10% of sales in research and development each year, and to introduce new drugs that had substantial or breakthrough therapeutic benefit to Canadians,” said Yussuff.

In 2017, the investment of big pharmaceutical companies was the lowest it has ever been in 30 years—a paltry 4.6%—and nine-in-ten new-patented medicines offered slight or no improvement in therapeutic benefit over existing therapies.

Tags: Pharmacare

Related Articles

Canada’s unions join #VirtualDayofPink with a renewed call for solidarity against homophobia and transphobia

In 2020, we are celebrating International Day of Pink – a day to raise awareness and combat homophobic and transphobic bullying and harassment – in the context of a global pandemic. While many us are making sure that we #stayathome, we still need to be aware of the threat of homophobic and transphobic violence that persists online, at home, and…
Read More

Canada’s unions support nurses, midwives and all health care workers

For World Health Day 2020, the World Health Organization is celebrating the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife. Right now, nurses and midwives are working shoulder to shoulder with all health care workers at ground zero of the largest pandemic in modern history. Health care workers are working overtime, playing a critical role for their patients across the country…
Read More

Hundreds of activists bring union priorities to the Hill

OTTAWA – Hundreds of union activists are meeting with Members of Parliament and Senators today to discuss issues they want to see addressed in this Parliament’s first budget — with national pharmacare as their top priority. “We know that universal, public pharmacare will be less expensive and keep more people healthy and out of the hospital,” said Hassan Yussuff, President…
Read More