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New drugs: Patients are needlessly waiting 15 months too long

Montreal, April 5, 2018 – Regulatory obstacles entail an additional delay of 15 months on average between the moment when a new drug is approved by Health Canada and its reimbursement by the provinces’ public plans. And this process may get even more burdensome due to a recent reform, shows a publication launched today by the MEI.

“New drugs, which are indispensable to our quality of life, face a real obstacle course before arriving on the market. The regulatory process has multiple stages, and during this time, patients wait for treatment, even though the drugs are approved,” says Mathieu Bédard, Economist at the MEI and the author of the publication.

For example, a breast cancer drug approved by Health Canada in March 2016 was only added to Quebec’s list of reimbursed drugs in February 2018, or 23 months later. “Such delays are indefensible, and unacceptable!” exclaims Mr. Bédard. “They have serious repercussions on the health and on the lives of patients.”

The process may get even longer since a new reform will lead to the duplication of certain stages. Indeed, the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board, a federal agency, aims to expand its role, which will increase the regulatory burden even further.

“The danger is that such bureaucracy and excessive regulation will push pharmaceutical companies to introduce new drugs first on other markets that are less restrictive and more profitable than Canada, in order to recover their research costs and ensure the development of the next generation of drugs,” explains Mathieu Bédard.

“Fifteen months is an eternity when you’re sick. To increase and improve Canadians’ access to new drugs, Canada should take inspiration from Germany, for instance, and authorize the reimbursement of drugs as soon as they’re approved by Health Canada, relying on prices that result from supply and demand. It’s a matter of common sense and respect for patients,” adds Michel Kelly-Gagnon, President and CEO of the MEI.

The publication entitled “Innovative Drugs: A Bureaucratic Obstacle Course” was prepared by Mathieu Bédard, Economist at the MEI. This publication is available on our website.

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The Montreal Economic Institute is an independent, non-partisan, not-for-profit research and educational organization. Through its studies and its conferences, the MEI stimulates debate on public policies in Quebec and across Canada by proposing wealth-creating reforms based on market mechanisms.

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Interview requests: Pascale Déry, Vice President, Communications and Development, MEI / Tel.: 514-273-0969 ext. 2233 / Cell.: 514-502-6757 / Email: pdery@iedm.org

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