Federal PMPRB Drug Pricing Rules Already Stopping What Canadians Want: Access to New Cancer Medicines and Other Treatments as Soon as Possible

Federal PMPRB Drug Pricing Rules Already Stopping What Canadians Want: Access to New Cancer Medicines and Other Treatments as Soon as Possible

Federal PMPRB Drug Pricing Rules Already Stopping What Canadians Want: Access to New Cancer Medicines and Other Treatments as Soon as Possible

Survey of pharmaceutical executives confirms almost all companies will delay new product launches; more than one-third already have

TORONTO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–More than one third of pharmaceutical executives in Canada report their company has already delayed launches of new medicines in Canada due to the uncertainty caused by the federal government’s new patented drug pricing rules. Life Sciences Ontario (LSO) commissioned the report from Research Etc.

At the same time, another survey for LSO by Ipsos Canada of the general public shows the impact of the new federal policy is contrary to what most Canadians want. In that poll, 72% of Canadians agreed (23% strongly) that new medicines for diseases like cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes should be made available as soon as possible, even if that means Canada needs to pay a higher price than some other countries.

There are recent reports that the federal government is willing to pay a premium for COVID-19 vaccines to secure earlier access. The federal government has even provided an exception to new price regulations for COVID therapeutics, but not for other priority diseases of critical importance to Canadians.

The complex and untried Canadian patented drug pricing rules changing the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board (PMPRB) were first unveiled in 2017 and were scheduled to come into effect on January 1, 2021. However, in late December 2020, the government announced the rules would be delayed another six months, to July 1, 2021.

“These new survey results show that the government action has resulted in the worst of all worlds for Canadians – delayed access to new treatments they want and need and continued grave uncertainty for pharmaceutical companies and the Canadian research community,” said Dr. Jason Field, President and CEO of LSO. “We need to find the right balance in pharmaceutical pricing policy that allows Canadians prompt access to new treatments and that supports a healthy research ecosystem across Canada. Our current experience with the COVID-19 pandemic makes it clear how important it is for us to achieve these goals.”

While not yet in force, the impact of the new pricing rules is already being felt strongly in pharmaceutical company decision-making, according to the new survey of 43 executives from large and small companies completed in December 2020. Virtually all (98%) said the policy will negatively impact their business plans and 94% said product launches will be delayed, most by at least a year or more.

“This is a remarkable level of agreement that we seldom see in discussions with sector leaders, indicating the high level of concern in the industry on this issue,” said Rachelle Deshaies, Senior Market Research Executive and Principal at Research Etc. “Importantly for patients, the survey shows the therapeutic areas most threatened by the changes will be cancer therapies, biologic medicines for chronic illnesses and even vaccines.”

Nine out of 10 pharmaceutical executives also said the pricing reform will negatively impact investments in research, clinical trials and innovation.

“The results of this survey substantiate IQVIA data from last year, which confirmed that Canada’s access to new globally available drugs had declined by 40% in the year the pricing rules were adopted. Unfortunately, this is a trend we expect to continue in 2021 and beyond given the federal price controls,” notes Dr. Field.

In the Ipsos Canada survey of the Canadian public, respondents were asked to select their top three non-COVID health priorities. The leading ones chosen were addressing challenges in long-term care (51%), in hospitals and acute care (40%), and in wait times for surgeries (38%). Innovative medicines can help alleviate all these issues.

“The survey shows that nearly three quarters of Canadians want access to new treatments as soon as possible even if Canada has to pay higher prices” said Mike Colledge, President, Ipsos Public Affairs. “At the end of the day, Canadians quite naturally want to be able to have access to a medicine if they or a family member need it.”

Telephone interviews were also conducted by Research Etc. with 10 of the pharmaceutical executives, resulting in dozens of comments on the impacts of the price controls on access to medicines and health research investments, including:

  • “At least one product launch has been delayed and may not launch due to the changes.”
  • “We will be forced to withdraw a product from the market and will not proceed with the launch of another.”
  • “Our parent company and potential partners feel that there is too much pricing risk to engage in the Canadian market and as such we are not a priority country for launch or business development.”
  • “We expect a delay in product launches. This will make Canada less attractive for clinical research and investment.”
  • “These policies make my job (as CEO) of attracting investments in Canada almost impossible.”

The Research Etc. and Ipsos Canada survey results are available at http://bit.ly/LSOSurveyData. The results will be discussed by Research Etc., Ipsos Canada and LSO in a webinar from 1:00 to 2:00pm on Thursday, January 21, 2021, which is open to the public and the media. Please visit http://bit.ly/LSOwebinarPMPRB to register for this webinar.

About the Research Etc. survey

The survey of pharmaceutical company leaders was conducted by the independent firm Research Etc. for LSO. Online surveys were completed by 43 pharmaceutical executives between December 2-15, 2020. Twenty-five were in senior-level positions at Canadian affiliates of a global pharmaceutical company, 13 working for a parent company outside Canada and five with a parent company based in Canada. Qualitative research was also conducted, comprised of ten 30-minute follow-up telephone interviews completed between December 14-18, 2020. Of these interviewees, five were from large global pharmaceutical companies and five from smaller companies, including those that are Canadian-owned and headquartered. researchetc.com

About the Ipsos survey

The Ipsos survey of Canadians ran on the Ipsos online omnibus the week of December 13, 2020, surveying a sample of 1,005 Canadians nationally balanced across age, gender, region and education. The results are considered accurate to within +-2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, compared to what the results would have been if all Canadian adults had been surveyed. ipsos.com

About Life Sciences Ontario

Life Sciences Ontario (LSO) is a member-driven organization that represents and promotes the province’s vibrant and diverse life sciences sector. Ontario is currently home to one of the largest life sciences clusters in North America, contributing $58 billion to Ontario’s GDP, and providing almost 200,000 direct and indirect jobs for Ontarians. About 1-in-13 jobs in Ontario are in life sciences or supported by its activity. LSO collaborates with governments, academia, industry, and other life science organizations in Ontario and across Canada to promote and encourage commercial success throughout the sector. Membership in LSO includes individuals, students, emerging companies, investors, service providers, and companies with marketed products. LSO is dedicated to promoting Ontario’s life sciences sector internationally. lifesciencesontario.ca


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