Government caves to big pharma, guts fair drug price rules, staff resign

This was the last straw for Patent Medicine Price Review Board member Mathew Herder. 

Recently, he and several high profile staffers resigned after the government's U-turn on its repeated promises to properly regulate drug prices in Canada. 

In 2016, in response to big pharmas twenty year failure to deliver on domestic research and development spending commitments, the government adopted legislation to reform the decades old drug pricing model which artificially inflated new drug prices. These evidence-based reforms were to put an end to price-gouging on new medications and bring prices in line with peer countries, as well as introduce pharmacoeconomic analysis (where a drug's maximum price is based on its effectiveness when compared to existing medications).  Independent evidence demonstrated that this would have no negative impact on access to new drugs or drug supplies.  

Lobbyist and industry front groups came out in force, bumping into PIPSC representatives and Canadian Labour Congress advocates at public consultations.  Slowly but surely, the government caved – first when it failed to appeal pharma's court challenges against the reforms, and again when it issued a never ending stream of postponements.  We called on the government to do better. 

These challenges have left the law as a shadow of its former self which, in turn, sets Canada even further behind in achieving the long promised public pharmacare system.  Pharmacare and reasonable drug pricing is not just fair – it is effective public policy that improves health outcomes and saves money long term.  

PIPSC continues to urge the government to stay true to its word and recommit itself to drug pricing reform and public pharmacare.  Covid has proven this is more essential now than ever.