The government of Canada is going to change the policy on the regulation of medicine prices. In case this reform is implemented, the prices for new brand drugs will be calculated in a different way, as a result, they will be reduced by up to 70%. The purpose of this innovation is to make new medications more affordable. However, some experts claim that the new rules may lead to serious problems.
How are Medication Prices Formed in Canada?
As of today, in Canada price ceilings for patent medications are regulated by the special federal agency. This organization sets limits, taking into account prices in the countries with a similar economic situation and a similar number of medications available. The current check list comprises the following countries: Germany, Italy, France, Sweden, Switzerland, the USA and the UK.
One should note that Canadians currently experience problems with delays in the introduction of medicines. According to the statistics, new medications enter the local market with a delay of 11 months on average. And in some cases the waiting period lasts more than 2 years! This problem is associated with bureaucratic issues mainly.
The new reform may significantly change the situation.
How May the Reform Influence the Canadian Pharmaceutical Market?
According to new rules, the countries characterized by high prices, i.e. the USA and Switzerland, will be deleted from the reference list, used for calculating medication price ceilings. They will be replaced with other developed countries with the governmental price control and, consequently, more affordable prices. These are Australia, South Korea, Belgium, Norway, Japan, Spain and the Netherlands. The main selection criterion is the regulation of prices.
If to have a close look at the situation with the introduction of new medications in the countries, specified in the previous paragraph, we will see that in some of them new medicines get available with the delay that is longer than in our country. So, some experts claim that changes to the Canadian medication price regulation policy will lead to similar problems.
One should also note that some representatives of the government promote the usage of generics that are much more affordable. These are the medications that include the same active components as brand drugs and produce similar effects. They are sold at lower prices, because their manufacturers save money on testing, researching and patenting. Besides, they are often produced in the countries with low salaries. In Canada there are also companies producing generic drugs.
What Negative Consequences May the Reform Lead to?
There are two main problems that are associated with the governmental regulation of prices of medicines:
- Delays in the introduction of new medications
Manufacturers tend to present new medicines at first in the countries with higher prices, since they need to get back the money that they invest in researches, patenting, testing and other procedures. As a rule, the markets with the prices that are regulated by the government are placed at the end of the line. Such waiting periods may last even several years. In some cases such delays may lead to patients suffering from pain or other serious symptoms, while waiting for medications to get available. And in some situations such delays may cost patients their lives.
- The reduction of the list of the available products
If the reform starts working, the prices of the medications, which are already sold in Canada, will also be revised. And such revision may cause hundreds of products to become unavailable. For example, there was a similar situation in Bulgaria. After the price revision that was conducted in 2012, 200 products were taken off the market.
What if the reform will lead to similar consequences for Canadians? And what if there are no alternatives to the drugs that may get unavailable?
So, as you can see, the reform, which is aimed at making medicines more available and providing Canadians with more opportunities to take care of their health, may lead to the situation, when we get access to new medicines years later than citizens of other countries. And, moreover, Canadians may be denied access to the products that are currently on the market.
Both experts and average citizens differ in their judgment of the reform. Some claim that reducing prices is a necessity, since there are a lot of people who can’t afford medications at the moment. They insist that there is no use to have access to medications if you do not have enough money to buy them. Their opponents believe that the reform will limit patients’ rights. They conclude that it is better to have access to medicines at high prices than to have no access at all.
And what do you think of this situation?