The federal government is scrambling, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic that revealed just how dangerously unprepared the country really was to invest in pharmaceutical and vaccine research, development, and manufacturing here in Canada.
But proposed federal regulations intended to cut drug prices would have dire consequences for Canadians overall, a new MacDonald-Laurier Institute paper titled outlines.
The changes to the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board are planned to take effect in July 2021 and would see price drops of up to 60 percent for some drugs.
The reduced prices would not be sustainable, and innovation in our already struggling biopharmaceutical sector would be further hampered, the report says. There are real tradeoffs, authors Nigel Rawson and John Adams write:
“Significantly reducing drug prices might save money for government drug plans, but it will be at the expense of patients suffering without their health needs being met and dying prematurely.”
Rather, they recommend, the federal government should work to develop a collaborative partnership with the industry to institute a more favourable pharmaceutical policy environment. Less antagonism and more collaboration would not only lead to more innovation, earlier access to medicine and vaccines, and better outcomes for Canadian health, it would be a welcome boost to the economy overall as well.
Adams and Rawson ask in conclusion:
“The federal government can no longer speak out of both sides of its collective mouth on its relationship with the biopharmaceutical industry. What shall it be? Continued antipathy, or the start of a new era of collaboration to benefit Canadians?”