Pharma companies urge Ottawa to postpone changes to lower drug prices to next year

Debbie Lawes
May 20, 2020

Canada’s brand-name pharmaceutical companies are calling on the federal government to postpone a July 1 deadline for implementing amendments designed to lower the price of patented drugs, calling it a “distraction” at a time when the industry is preoccupied with the COVID-19 crisis.

In a brief filed this month with the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health, Innovative Medicines Canada (IMC) asked that the reforms to the Patented Medicine Regulations (PMRs) be delayed until January 1, 2021. It’s the first major update to the regulations since the introduction of PMRs in 1987.

“While the industry remains focused on the current crisis, our members – and the patients on whose behalf they are concentrating their efforts – cannot afford distractions from the vital work they are doing to discover tests, treatments, and vaccines,” the lobby group wrote.

The pending amendments aim to modernize the way patented drug prices are regulated in Canada by providing the Patented Medicines Prices Review Board with a framework to protect consumers from excessive drug prices.

The changes will allow the PMPRB to consider additional factors in deciding whether a new drug’s price is excessive. These include changing the basket of countries used for comparison when assessing whether a patented drug price is excessive and adding new price regulatory factors so value for money and affordability can be taken into consideration.

The government is projecting $13.2 billion in savings over 10 years on patented drug costs as a result of the amendments. IMC, however, warns of losses in other areas.

“It is the industry’s position that implementing these amendments will discourage future investments in research, infrastructures, and potentially delay the launch of new therapies in our country, post COVID-19, IMC wrote.


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