This opinion piece by MP Matt Jeneroux was published by the Hill Times on May 14, 2020.
The PMPRB regulatory changes set aggressive price ceilings for some new therapies, especially those involving rare disorders, that make it almost guaranteed that these therapies will not be brought to the Canadian market.
The federal government is currently on track to implement regulatory changes to the Patented Medicines Prices Review Board on July 1. These changes will negatively impact the lives of Canadians who depend on medications.
The proposed changes determine the maximum price drug companies can charge for patented drugs sold in Canada. The PMPRB regulatory changes set aggressive price ceilings for some new therapies, especially those involving rare disorders, that make it almost guaranteed that these therapies will not be brought to the Canadian market.
Over the past few months, I’ve been hearing from stakeholders and Canadians living with rare diseases that these changes will deter companies from offering their drugs on the Canadian market.
If the government proceeds with their plan, innovative and life-saving medication could be unavailable for Canadians.
We’ve already seen the influence of the looming regulatory changes. A drug called Trikafta, which has so far shown to significantly improve the lives of people suffering from Cystic Fibrosis, was approved for market in the United States last year.
However, the drug remains unavailable on the Canadian market because parent company Vertex Pharmaceuticals hasn’t applied for Health Canada approval, citing the PMPRB proposed changes as the key reason.
I’ve personally heard from hundreds of Canadians living with Cystic Fibrosis. These patients are begging the federal government to significantly revise or altogether remove the PMPRB changes so that they can access this life-changing drug.
Canadians are already seeing drug shortages as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. People in my community and across the country can only get their drugs dispensed one month at a time, instead of the usual three month supply, due to the shortages.
Introducing the planned changes on July 1 will further exacerbate the situation.
Drug companies will be deterred from applying to have their drugs made available in Canada. Canadians, especially those on fixed incomes, will be the ones who suffer because they can’t access the drugs they need.
Canadians who have the means will find themselves turning to the American market to get the drugs they require for their standard of living. Others have no option but to suffer.
I’ve personally written to the Health minister asking her to delay the planned PMPRB amendments. I received no response. I’ve also questioned her numerous times in person about these changes and have been told that the government will stick to its plan.
Going ahead with the implementation of the PMPRB amendments on July 1 is short-sighted, and doesn’t put the needs of Canadians at the forefront. We are in the midst of a pandemic already causing shortages and don’t need further impediments to getting medication into the hands of Canadians. These amendments also disadvantage Canadians with rare diseases who need access to innovative, costly, and life-saving medications.
Ottawa needs to put patients first and delay the planned PMPRB regulatory changes.
Conservative MP Matt Jeneroux is his party’s health critic.
The Hill Times