The Costly Wait for Lower Priced Drugs


Canadians value medicines and vaccines more than ever but worry that Ottawa’s red tape is blocking access.

COVID-19 challenges have shown us that we should be clearing the way for new health innovations to come to Canada. Recent federal regulations are doing the exact opposite. In an effort to reduce drug spending, the Government of Canada has adopted new regulations that will not only drive down drug prices to unsustainable levels but also create more red tape for companies that want to bring their treatments and vaccines to Canadians. As a result C.A.R.P. did a survey on the issue of innovation vs regulation.

For many older Canadians with cancer, diabetes, and other serious diseases who need access to the newest treatments now, not two years from now, it means lots of waiting and anxiety. It means thousands of unnecessary and avoidable deaths. It means looking at other countries at the front of the line for medicine and vaccine access and wondering where we went wrong. Thanks to COVID-19, everyone now understands this struggle.

In the recent national survey conducted by C.A.R.P., respondents were clear that they don’t want to give up access to the newest medicines and vaccines for lower drug prices. They also believe that the federal government needs to reconsider the new drug pricing rules.

“Canadians can see that there are many very promising new treatments becoming available and seniors in particular want to make sure they are available here,” said Bill VanGorder, Chief Policy Officer for C.A.R.P. “The delays in getting COVID-19 vaccines into Canada earlier this year are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the serious issues that regulations can cause in delaying access to new medicines in this country.”

“We know that the new pricing regulations have delayed or canceled new medicines in Canada. Those delays can be as long as 3 years.” said Dr. Jason Field, President and CEO of Life Sciences Ontario. The new pricing regulations must enable innovation and research that allows Canadians access to the new life-saving treatments for cancer and many other serious conditions in a timely fashion vs other countries.”

Someone who has seen first-hand the impact new treatments can have on improving the health and quality of life of patients is Gail Attara, President and CEO of the Gastrointestinal Society. “This is a very exciting time for the development of new treatments for many serious health conditions. These treatments can really help patients, but only if they have access to them. We can, and must, do a better job of getting these new medicines to patients more quickly.”

In fact almost all Canadian health charities (i.e. Diabetes Canada, Canadian Lung Association etc.) are worried about the impact these regulations will have on access to new medicines and research in Canada. (The Health Charities Coalition of Canada’s input on the issue can be found here)

To learn more about the federal drug price regulations, C.A.R.P. hosted a webinar recently and the recording can be accessed here)

You can also visit Life Sciences Ontario’s advocacy page on the issue.