Canada's NDP


December 30th, 2020

NDP statement: liberals delay changes to lower drug prices in Canada for a third time

December 30, 2020

Don Davies, NDP Health Critic, issued the following statement:

"I am deeply disappointed to see the Trudeau government quietly decide today to once again delay planned reforms to the Patented Medicines Prices Review Board (PMPRB) that were slated to take effect January 1, 2021. This is the third time that the Liberal government has delayed these changes to help Canadians due to industry pressure.

This means that millions of Canadians will needlessly continue to pay among the highest prices for pharmaceutical medicines in the world, and prevent many from accessing the drugs they need.

These changes were first proposed in 2015 and they have undergone rigorous study and unprecedented consultation.

PMPRB officials recently testified over two days at the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health and detailed the massive savings and greater pricing transparency these overdue reforms would bring. Among other things, they would broaden the basket of comparator countries to a more representative sample, bringing Canadian drug prices more in line with what other nations pay. Health Canada itself estimates that the reforms will save Canadians $13 billion over the next decade alone.

The changes would also bring greater transparency to the drug pricing decision process, requiring drug companies to disclose on a confidential basis the currently secret rebates that they give to certain buyers. This would additionally enable the PMPRB to have more accurate information in determining appropriate drug prices.

Prime Minister Trudeau has tasked all three Health Ministers he has appointed since 2015 with the mandate of lowering drug prices in Canada. This has failed to happen, with drug prices rising every single year since 2015.

The Liberals have also claimed that they cannot implement Pharmacare until drug prices are lowered, yet they have repeatedly caved to pharmaceutical industry pressure and threats which leave prices ever increasing for Canadians.

Worst of all, this lack of political courage has resulted in millions of Canadians being unable to afford the medication they need, and in many cases patients being unable to access life-saving medication due to pharmaceutical companies withholding access to drugs as a pressure tactic on government.

Canadian pharmaceutical policy should be based on fairness and the best interests of public health, not the corporate greed of a massively profitable industry, backroom threats and holding Canadian patients to ransom.

We call on the Liberal government to reverse this decision at once, and implement the PMPRB reforms as scheduled that are so needed to help Canadians get effective medicines at affordable prices."