Drug Pricing in Canada: mobilizing patients to action – Recap

The Canadian Cancer Survivor Network (@Survivornet) along with the Save Your Skin Foundation (@saveyourskinfdn) and the Schizophrenia Society of Ontario (@peace_of_minds) hosted a Summit on November 15th and 16th, to give patients and patient groups the opportunity to learn about and discuss drug pricing policy in Canada. The two day event featured a variety of speakers and stakeholders who provide input to over 40 patient organizational representatives who worked together to identify next steps and action items to implement individually and collectively starting in 2017.

Day 1

Day 1 began with an enlightening presentation by Adam Cook, a Health and Policy researcher with the Canadian Treatment Action Council. Cook’s presentation focused on how Hepatitis C treatment has been dealt with across health pricing policy systems by the federal regulatory bodies and across different provinces and territories in Canada. Access to Hepatitis C medication, which is a cure for the disease, is impacted by the pricing policies for the treatment. Cook also demonstrated how access to Hepatitis C treatment is very similar to that of other treatments for chronic diseases, including cancer.

The first multi-person panel of the summit focused on the topic of Public Drug Pricing and featured  different public stakeholders. In attendance was David K. Lee, Executive Advisor to the Assistant Deputy Minister / Health Products and Food Branch Health Canada, Government of Canada; Doug Clark, Executive Director, Patented Medicine Prices Review Board (PMPRB); Brent Fraser, Vice-President, Pharmaceutical Reviews, Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (CADTH); and Reiner Banken, M.D. M.Sc., Consultant in Quebec. Some of the key points made included the increased involvement of patients throughout the entire drug approval process and how CADTH’s intention is to provide greater transparency and more long-term planning.

The second panel of the day stayed with the Public Drug Pricing theme and featured Imran Ali, Senior Manager of the pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance (pCPA) Office and Kevin Wilson, Executive Director, Drug Plan and Extended Benefits Branch, Saskatchewan Ministry of Health. These presentations and discussions were very interesting to all in attendance. Ali indicated that the pCPA is focused on providing value to the broader health care systems by negotiating drug prices collectively provincially and territorially and to improve patient care. Wilson explained how equitable access across Canada is challenged due to different types of public health plans across the country.

The third and final panel of Day 1 was titled Private Payer Stakeholder and featured Karen Voin, Assistant Vice President of Group Benefits and Anti-Fraud at the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association (CLHIA) and Ned Pojskic, Pharmacy Strategy Leader, Green Shield Canada.  Panelists explored different strategies for ensuring sustainability of drug plans in Canada while faced with a high-cost drugs and an aging population. They said that there needs to be more collaboration between public and private payers as well as other stakeholders to ensure the system works as efficiently as possible.

Day 2

The second day of the Drug Pricing in Canada: Mobilizing Patients to Action summit started off with a very in-depth discussion on the Future Trends in Health Technology Assessment.  The speakers for this subject were Matthew Brougham, Senior Consultant, Brougham Consulting and Laser Analytica and Amir Tahami, Director of Market Access and Health Economics, Bristol-Myers Squibb Canada and Adjunct Professor of Medicine, Epidemiology and Biostatistics at McGill University. They spoke with the audience about what a health technology assessment (HTA) truly is, how certain decisions must meet specific criteria, and how this affects patients across Canada. They described different health technology formulae that can be used to determine the value of a new technology to inform reimbursement recommendations.

The second panel featured industry leaders, who discussed Pharmaceutical Industry Challenges. On the panel were Glenn Monteith, Vice President, Innovation & Health Sustainability, Innovative Medicines Canada; Allan Miranda, Therapeutic Director, Janssen; Jennifer Chan, Vice President, Policy & External Affairs, Merck Canada; Christian Ouellet, Director, Government Affairs, Sandoz Canada, and Katherine Bonter, Founder, Alliance for Innovation in Molecular Diagnostics and PhD Candidate, McGill University. These panelists discussed the role that different drugs, biologics and companion diagnostics play in the drug pricing policy systems.

The final panel of the summit focused on the Impact on Researchers and Physician Prescribing and featured Dr. Sandy Sehdev, Medical Oncologist; Jamie Kellar, Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Toronto; Dr. Natasha Kekre, Associate Scientist, Clinical Epidemiology Program, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute; and Alan Birch, Drug Access Facilitator at North York General Hospital. The health care professionals on this panel provided great insight as to how doctors, pharmacists and drug navigators believe the health system in Canada can be improved and the importance of timely access to the drugs that a patient requires.

This concluded what was an extremely informative summit where patients, patient groups and other stakeholders were able to discuss the importance of drug pricing policy in Canada and how to affect change moving forward. Themes of sustainability, the use of real world evidence and the importance of multi-stakeholder solution-based problem solving processes were repeated throughout.

The Canadian Cancer Survivor Network would like to thank the Save Your Skin Foundation and the Schizophrenia Society of Ontario as well as all volunteers, panelists and other contributors for their support.  The organizers are now in the process of taking the information that was shared by panelists, patients and patient groups to create a blueprint for action for 2017. This blueprint will be shared not only with those present, but also widely in the healthcare and cancer care communities for endorsement and to offer the opportunity for interested patient groups to work on working committees to move forward the on the issues raised.

A comprehensive report is being prepared by the Summit organizers and will be posted on the CCSN website shortly.

We would also like to thank the following groups who were in attendance:

  • aHus Canada
  • Asthma Society of Canada
  • Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada
  • Breast Cancer Support Group
  • Canadian Cancer Society
  • Canadian Cancer Survivor Network
  • Canadian Digestive Health Foundation
  • Canadian PKU & Allied Disorders Inc.
  • Canadian Psoriasis Network
  • Canadian Spondylitis Association
  • CCAN
  • CNETS Canada
  • Crohn’s and Colitis Canada
  • Cystic Fibrosis Canada
  • GIST Sarcoma Life Raft Group Canada
  • HepCBC
  • Muscular Dystrophy Canada
  • Myeloma Canada
  • National Asthma Patient Alliance
  • Ontario Rheumatology Association
  • Ovarian Cancer Canada
  • Patient Alliance in Nova Scotia, Asthma Society of Canada
  • Prostate Cancer Canada
  • Save Your Skin Foundation
  • Schizophrenia Society of Ontario
  • The Arthritis Society

We also thank our sponsors:

  • AstraZeneca
  • Boehringer Ingelheim
  • Bristol-Myers Squibb Canada
  • Janssen
  • Lilly
  • Merck
  • Novartis
  • Pfizer
  • Roche