Patient advocacy organizations urge government to halt drug-pricing review

A group of 28 patient advocacy organizations are urging Health Canada to stop its review of drug pricing.

The federal government announced changes to drug price regulation in December 2017, setting out proposals through the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board that it estimates will deliver $12.6 billion in net benefits over 10 years through lower drug costs.

Read: Feds propose overhaul of drug pricing regulations

In a press release, the organizations said they believe the proposed drug pricing reforms will ultimately hurt patients, affecting access to new medications and research investments that provide access to clinical trials in Canada. The group is also concerned that Health Canada didn’t incorporate the voices of organizations and patients, despite significant feedback provided during the pre-consultation period in June 2017. 

As such, the organizations are asking Health Canada to open a fulsome consultation process among all parties, including patient representatives, to identify solutions.

“Access, appropriate use and affordability are the pillars of our health-care goals in Canada and we encourage comprehensive dialogue with patient organizations, industry and government to identify strategies and methods to maintain this balance,” said Louise Binder, health policy consultant at the Save Your Skin Foundation, in the release. “We can’t jeopardize our current standard of care, especially in this era of unprecedented medical innovation and breakthrough therapies.”

Read: Ontario auditor general report takes aim at generic drug prices

In its submission to Health Canada, the patient organizations identified three key areas of concern: the impact on patients, health outcomes and research and clinical trials. The group also offered several solutions, including pay-for-performance measures, risk-sharing agreements and adherence programs.  

“The outcome of these regulations will have a profound impact on the lives of patients,” said Martine Elias, director of access, advocacy and community relations at Myeloma Canada. “Thus, patient voices must be listened to now, and patient groups representing the interests of their communities should be fully engaged in the drug pricing discussion as they are the ones most directly affected by the recommendations.

“This is about being open and transparent to ensure the best overall process in the interest of all Canadians and our health-care system.”