Canadians lagging well behind similar countries on access to new medicines: report

May 21, 2015, 10:00 ET from Canada's Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies (Rx&D)

OTTAWA, May 21, 2015 /CNW/ - Canadians face wait times of over 460 days in order to get access to new, potentially lifesaving medicines in public drug plans, according to a new IMS Brogan report commissioned by Rx&D. Overall, the report ranks Canada 16 out of 18 similar OECD countries.

"It's unimaginable to know that, in 2014, only 23% of 141 Health Canada-approved new medicines were included in public plans, ranking Canada 17 out of 18 on this front," said Brett Skinner, Rx&D Executive Director, Health and Economic Policy.

The 2015 Access to New Medicines in Public Drug Plans: Canada and Comparable Countries report finds Canada seriously lagging compared to other similar OECD countries in terms of public drug plan reimbursement.

"More and more, public drug plans in Canada are making new medicines available only on a conditional, case-by-case basis – resulting in more administration, longer wait times for patients before beginning treatment, increased paperwork for physicians; and most importantly, no guarantee that patients will receive coverage. These new treatments are being developed to improve health outcomes, to cure diseases and to help Canadians better live with chronic conditions," said Rx&D President Russell Williams. "We all lose out if Canadians can't get access to these new treatments – from the very real costs of sickness on families, to increased hospitalization rates and even lost productivity."

"These treatments work – we now need to make access to medicines work for Canadians," said Williams.

"My wife died of a very rare incurable cancer. Her life was extended more than 15 months, with generally good quality, by two drugs that are widely known to be effective. She received them on a compassionate basis – free – from drug companies before they were approved by Health Canada. Each drug costs many thousands per month. Had these drugs been approved for use, our provincial drug plan would not have covered them. Paying for such treatments can cause severe emotional and financial hardship for families, and even bankrupt them," said John-Peter Bradford, who was present at Rx&D's report launch.

The report notes that:

  • In Canada, 29% of cancer medicines were covered in public drug plans across provinces comprising at least 80% of the eligible national public drug plan population, ranking Canada in 16th place of 18 countries.
  • Canadian public drug plans placed reimbursement conditions on 90% of new medicines when measured across provinces comprising 80% of the eligible national public drug plan population.
  • In Canada, 20% of new biologic medicines were reimbursed in public drug plans across provinces comprising at least 80% of the eligible national public drug plan population, putting Canada in 17th place of 18 countries.

About Canada's Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies

Canada's Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies is the national association representing the voice of Canada's innovative pharmaceutical industry. We serve our membership by advocating for policies that enable the discovery, development and delivery of innovative medicines and vaccines to improve the lives of all Canadians. We support our memberships' commitment to being a valued partner in the Canadian healthcare system. We represent more than 50 companies investing over $1-billion in R&D annually, fuelling Canada's knowledge-based economy, while contributing over $3-billion overall to Canada's economy. Guided by our Code of Ethical Practices, we work with governments, private payers, healthcare professionals and stakeholders in a highly ethical manner.


SOURCE Canada's Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies (Rx&D)