Letter to Health Minister Duclos about unfair drug pricing

The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos
Minister of Health
Health Canada
Address Locator 0900C2
Ottawa Ontario K1A 0K9
By email: hcminister.ministresc@hc-sc.gc.ca

February 3, 2022

Dear Minister Duclos,

I am writing today to express my growing alarm over your government’s continued delay in implementing revised Regulations governing patent medicine pricing. Our office wrote to former Health Minister Minister Hajdu and yourself (in your capacity as President of the Treasury Board) on July 13, 2021 following its second postponement to urge the government to move forward on these critical regulatory changes. Unfortunately no action has taken place in this regard over the past few months, to the great detriment of all Canadians.

Fair drug pricing in Canada should have been implemented decades ago. Yet at a time when both physical and mental health are top of mind for millions of our country’s citizens, your government’s inaction is inexplicable and inexcusable. Repeatedly postponing these much-needed revisions only worsens the plight of countless Canadians in dire need of affordable medication.

Canadians, including federal public service employees represented by the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, continue to pay drug prices far in excess of those found in comparable countries. The industry’s exorbitant prices also result in runaway drug costs for federal and provincial health care plans, including the Public Service Health Care Plan. Surely you find this as unacceptable as we do.

Your government first committed to tackling unfair drug pricing in 2016, yet almost 6 years later, very little progress has been made on this issue. COVID-19 should not be cited as a reason for delay, but as an impetus to expedite action. Implementing the revised Regulations, and, as a second step, a national Pharmacare plan, should be a top priority for your government at this time.

I am asking you, as Health Minister, to ensure that these Regulations take effect as soon as possible. I am sure you are aware that the Patent Medicine Price Review Board’s own research demonstrates that an evidence-based approach to drug pricing is long overdue. While a fair balance between profit and accessibility has been found in these Regulations, neither the government nor the people of Canada will benefit from them until they are actually implemented.

I look forward to your timely response on this urgent and critical matter.

Sincerely,

Jennifer Carr
President,
The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada


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