Government Amends Patented Medicines Regulation to Lower Drug Costs

Canadians pay among the highest patented drug prices in the world, after only the United States and Switzerland. Canadians also pay close to 25% more than the median price that people in other developed countries pay for the same drugs.

With that in mind, the Government of Canada announced the final amendments to the Patented Medicines Regulations. The most significant reforms to the regulations since their introduction in 1987, these amendments will give the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board (PMPRB) the tools to protect Canadians from excessive prices and make patented medicines more affordable.

“Today, we take the biggest step to lower drug prices in a generation. Building on the progress we’ve already made towards lower drug prices, these bold reforms will both make prescription drugs more affordable and accessible for all Canadians—saving them an estimated $13 billion dollars in the next decade—and lay the foundation for National Pharmacare,” said The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor Minister of Health

Firstly, these amendments will change the “basket” of countries Canada compares itself to when setting drug prices, so that prices here are judged against countries that actually look like Canada in terms of population, economy and approach to health care.

Secondly, these changes will provide the PMPRB with the actual market price of medicines in Canada—rather than inflated list or “sticker” price—to more accurately assess whether a price is reasonable when setting a price ceiling.

Finally, they will let the PMPRB consider whether the price of a drug actually reflects the value it has for patients.

These amendments are expected to save Canadians approximately $13.2 billion over 10 years on patented drug costs.

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