Fraser Institute report – drug-pricing changes will threaten Canadians who suffer from rare diseases

A new study released by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian public policy think-tank, shows that the federal government’s decision to increasingly regulate the costs of medicines to a level it deems acceptable could mean that Canadians with rare diseases could lose access to innovative treatments.

The study found that patients with rare diseases were denied treatments that are accessible elsewhere – between 2002 and 2016, 23 drugs for rare or ultra-rare diseases approved in Europe and the United States were denied. This may also, in part, be due to Canada not having an orphan drug policy, something that incentivises pharmaceutical companies to launch new medicines for rare diseases.

Instead, from next year, the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board (PMPRB), a federal body that regulates the prices of patented medicines, plans to use new rules to establish drug prices that lower costs of drug expenditure. They will do this by changing the number and mix of countries that they use for referencing drug price – removing two relative high-priced countries in the United States and Switzerland in favour of countries with generally lower prices. This will result in a fall in the maximum allowable price for patented medicines.

“Patients suffering from rare diseases in Canada are already denied many treatments available elsewhere, and the federal government’s changes to drug pricing will make the situation even worse,” said Dr Nigel Rawson, senior fellow at the Fraser institute.

The full report can be accessed here.

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Published 28. August 2018 in News Canada