Canadian Patient Groups Call on Federal Health Minister to Halt the Process Examining Proposed Amendments to the Patented Medicine Regulations Pending Constructive Consultations

– Patient Feedback Has Not Been Considered – Groups Seek Meaningful Dialogue with Government and Drug Manufactures to Find Ways to Preserve
and Balance Issues of Affordability, Access and Appropriate Use –

TORONTOFeb. 15, 2018 /CNW/ – Twenty-eight Canadian patient organizations, representing a wide range of patients with medical conditions, are leading a united voice to the Minister of Health and Health Canada to halt the current review of drug pricing in Canada.  The organizations believe that advancing the current proposed drug pricing reforms under the mandate of the Patented Medicines Review Board (PMPRB) may well, ultimately, hurt patients and cause a substantial impact on access to new medicines and research investments that provide access to clinical trials in Canada.

Another issue for the patient organizations is that many of the reforms announced by Health Canada in December, 2017, did not incorporate the voices of organizations and patients, despite significant feedback provided in 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 and ensure the pillars of Canadian healthcare are being upheld.

“Access, appropriate use and affordability are the pillars of our healthcare 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 of Save Your Skin Foundation.  “We can’t jeopardize our current standard of care, especially in this era of unprecedented medical innovation and breakthrough therapies.”

In its most recent submission to Health Canada, the patient organizations identified three key areas where Canada may be, unconsciously, on the brink of creating a second-class health system, including:

  • Impact on Patients – Canada has one of the highest percentages of new drugs worldwide.  The pharmaceutical industry has stated that any changes that substantially impact revenues may consequently affect the number of future new drugs to come into Canada, or may result in significantly longer delays in the launch of new drugs.  If this did occur, it would not not only hurt the patients relying on the public drug reimbursement system, but also the patients with private plans and even those who wish to buy the drugs themselves.
  • Impact on Health Outcomes – Many new drugs approved in Canada lead to more positive health outcomes for patients.  For example, the rate of premature cancer has declined since the launch of new breakthrough medications.
  • Impact on Research and Clinical Trials – With lower drug prices, companies may decide to invest research budgets elsewhere, thus reducing the number of clinical trials available to Canadian patients.  Currently many diagnosed patients have opportunities to be treated with leading-edge therapies before they become widely available.

In its submission to Health Canada, patient organizations provided eight concrete solutions that can be evaluated, including pay for performance measures, risk-sharing agreements or adherence programs.  Health Canada and the pharmaceutical industry must meet to discuss and explore innovative initiatives that can offer real solutions to address affordability, while not affecting accessibility or appropriate use of medications.

“Patients can’t be held hostage in a price stand-off between government and industry,” said Martine Elias of Myeloma Canada.  “We need to all work together to find ways to enhance improvements to the quality of lives of patients, and ensure their access to valuable new and effective treatments that can often mean the difference between life or death for a patient with cancer, as an example.”

“The outcome of these Regulations will have a profound impact on the lives of patients.  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,” added Ms. Elias.  “This is about being open and transparent to ensure the best overall process in the interest of all Canadians and our healthcare system.”

You can read “Recommendations on the Proposed Amendments to the Patented Medicines Regulations” at the following link:

The Patient Organization Submission is endorsed by the following:

Canadian Arthritis Patient Alliance, Canadian Cancer Survivor Network, Canadian MPN Network, Canadian Obesity Network, Canadian Psoriasis Network, Canadian Skin Patient Alliance, Canadian Spondylitis Association, Centre Associatif Polyvalent d’Aide Hépatite C (CAPAHC), Canadian Treatment Action Council, Carcinoid-NeuroEndocrine Tumour Society Canada, Cardiac Health Foundation of Canada, Collective Oncology Network for Exchange, Cancer Care Innovation, Treatment Access and Education (CONECTed), Colorectal Cancer Canada, Kidney Cancer Canada, Life-Saving Therapies Network, Lung Cancer Canada, Lymphoma Canada, Melanoma Network of Canada, Myeloma Canada, Pancreatic Cancer Canada, Rethink Breast Cancer, Save Your Skin Foundation, Schizophrenia Society of Ontario, Sickle Cell Awareness Group of Ontario, Team Finn, The Canadian CML Network, The Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia Society of Canada, and The Lung Association Ontario.

Transparency: Many patient organizations receive resources from multiple sponsors including industry.  Note, the response and recommendations to this consultation were developed independently from all funding bodies and solely represent the views of the patient groups themselves.