Exclusive: Drugmakers offer Canada C$1 billion to scrap some pending pricing rules

In this news, we discuss the Exclusive: Drugmakers offer Canada C$1 billion to scrap some pending pricing rules.

TORONTO (Reuters) – The pharmaceutical industry has made a final C $ 1 billion ($ 761 million) offer to the Canadian government in hopes of warding off parts of an expected drug price crackdown. effective Jan. 1, according to industry documents reviewed by Reuters.

The remaining regulations would further reduce the revenues of drugmakers by at least C $ 19.8 billion ($ 15.1 billion) over 10 years, according to an industry estimate.

If other costly reforms are put aside, the industry is poised to spend C $ 1 billion over the same period to boost local manufacturing and marketing, and on new programs to improve access to medicines for women. rare diseases.

The government has argued that the prices of patented drugs in Canada are too high, behind only the United States and Switzerland, and that other lower-priced countries enjoy similar access to prescription drugs.

Innovative Medicines Canada (IMC), the industry lobby group in Canada, met with Health Minister Patty Hajdu on October 16 and submitted a written proposal the following week, but has yet to receive a response. said IMC President Pamela Fralick.

“We have offered considerable options for the government to consider, and there just doesn’t seem to be that interest,” Fralick said in an interview. “We felt it was time to let Canadians know what the government is in fact missing out on.

In a statement, the health minister’s office said the government would still consider proposals “on different ways to achieve government goals,” but also noted that “no regulatory amendments are currently being made. in development”.

“The Government of Canada’s position remains unchanged – Canada has some of the highest patented drug prices in the world, and these high prices negatively affect patients’ ability to access new drugs,” the release said.

Reuters reported in February 2019 that the industry had proposed to give up C $ 8.6 billion in revenue over 10 years to avoid the price reform plan.

The industry has since backed down on part of the plan, which will change the comparator countries that the Canadian Patented Medicine Prices Review Board (PMPRB) uses as a benchmark to set certain maximum prices. The PMPRB will remove the United States and Switzerland from its comparisons and add countries with lower prices.

But the regulations also empower the PMPRB to consider the cost-effectiveness of new drugs and their potential impact on government budgets, an approach the industry has been fighting for for years.

Drug manufacturers and some patient groups argue that the price reductions and the uncertainty associated with the complex cost-benefit analysis that will be required for some new drugs will make pharmaceutical companies less likely to bring new drugs to market relatively. small from Canada.

While Canadian sales are not important to most global drug makers, the new regulations could inspire similar reforms in other countries or more directly affect prices abroad. Many countries set the prices of drugs in part on those of other countries, so price reductions could be passed on to the world.

The United States, the world’s largest prescription drug market, is a notable exception, with unregulated drug prices.

It could change. The Trump administration had launched a plan that would take into account prices in other countries, although nothing came of it. US President-elect Joe Biden’s platform also promised a new review board that would base the government’s Medicare health plan payments in part on prices in other countries.

IMC didn’t provide many details on how a rare disease program might work, but said it could improve “access and sustainability.” Drugs for rare diseases are particularly expensive.

In some other countries, such as Scotland, specially negotiated programs bring expensive rare disease drugs to market at reduced prices or with capped spending, giving drugmakers more time to prove their worth. .

Reporting by Allison Martell in Toronto; Edited by Denny Thomas and Bill Berkrot

Original © Thomson Reuters

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