Health minister denies interfering in drug-price agency

Ottawa –

Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos has said he is not putting undue political pressure on the independent federal agency that regulates the price of patented medicines in its efforts to bring down health care costs.

NDP health commentator Don Davies has accused the minister of suspending implementation of new rules aimed at bringing down the cost of medicines at the request of pharmaceutical companies that resisted the change.

The new regulation, which will go into effect in July, will allow the Patented Drug Pricing Board to compare Canadian drug prices to prices in a wider range of similar countries.

In November, when Duclos wrote to the Acting Chair suggesting that the consultation process be paused to give drug companies, patient groups, state ministers and himself more time to understand the changes. , the FDA was discussing the finer details related to the rule. .

One of the agency’s directors resigned shortly thereafter, saying that Duclos had undermined the board’s independence.

Duclos said the law required him to give an opinion on the consultation process, but the decision to suspend enforcement of the new rules ultimately fell to government agencies.

Davis said the minister is supporting the pharmaceutical industry, which strongly opposes the new rules, rather than Canadians who need access to affordable medicines.

Canada’s drug prices are the third highest in the world, behind the United States and Switzerland.

This report by the Canadian Press was first published on April 27, 2023.

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