In blow to big pharma, Canada enacts drug-price crackdown

The Canadian government announced final regulations on Friday that should cut billions of dollars from patented drug prices that are among the highest in the world, overcoming heavy opposition from pharmaceutical companies that may eventually challenge the new rules in court.

The biggest reform to Canada's drug price regime since 1987 would save Canadians C$13.2bn ($10bn) over a decade.

The rules will save money for patients, employers and insurers - including the government - at the expense of drug company profits. They could also eventually cut the earnings of drug makers in the US, the world's largest pharmaceutical market.

READ | Trump promises to reduce US drug prices to world's lowest

The Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association called the regulations "a crucial step to lower prescription drug costs for all Canadians".

The province of British Columbia also applauded the move, saying in a release: "People in BC and across Canada are now better protected against excessive drug prices set by manufacturers."

Industry lobby

The new rules were largely in line with a December 2017 draft. They came after months of delay prompted speculation that the government would back down in the face of industry lobbying or simply run out of time before Canada's October election.

"We are taking the biggest step in a generation to lower the price of drugs in Canada by moving forward with these regulations," Minister of Health Ginette Petitpas Taylor said in an interview.

Petitpas Taylor said the new rules would lay the foundation for a new national drug programme.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government is expected to announce a programme to cover the cost of prescription drugs for some or all Canadians, but the scope of the initiative is not yet clear.

Canada will change the list of countries to which the federal drug-price regulator, the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board (PMPRB), compares domestic prices.

The United States and Switzerland - where prices are highest - will be dropped from the list. Canada will also let the agency consider the cost-effectiveness of new medicines.

The government will require drug makers to disclose some confidential discounts to the PMPRB, which sets maximum prices.

Initially expected to take effect in January, the regulations were delayed so the government could review feedback. They will now go into force on July 1, 2020.

GET THE NEWS at your fingertips and download the News24 app for Android here now. Get it for your iPhone here.

KEEP UPDATED on the latest news by subscribing to our FREE newsletter.

- FOLLOW News24 on Twitter

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
Until the matric exams are over, my family is:
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Self-isolating to ensure we don't miss any exams
13% - 176 votes
Following Covid-19 safety protocols, but still going out like normal
54% - 759 votes
Business as usual, we're not worried about the virus
33% - 464 votes
Vote
ZAR/USD
16.23
(+0.67)
ZAR/GBP
21.02
(+0.59)
ZAR/EUR
18.90
(+1.01)
ZAR/AUD
11.40
(+0.88)
ZAR/JPY
0.16
(+0.82)
Gold
1877.90
(+0.05)
Silver
23.62
(+0.11)
Platinum
844.50
(+0.39)
Brent Crude
37.86
(-0.84)
Palladium
2204.58
(+0.60)
All Share
51684.70
(-0.41)
Top 40
47472.92
(-0.22)
Financial 15
9459.76
(-3.04)
Industrial 25
73439.58
(+1.04)
Resource 10
47245.91
(-1.21)
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes morningstar logo