Action on prescription drugs

The Government of Canada is committed to improving the affordability, accessibility and appropriate use of prescription drugs to better meet health care system needs.

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About our support

Prescription drugs are an important part of our health care system. They can help to:

  • diagnose, cure, control and prevent disease
  • manage symptoms and improve quality of life

We are taking action to:

  • lower the cost of prescription drugs
  • provide faster access to new drugs and therapies that are safe, effective and of high quality to meet the needs of Canadians
  • support the development of tools for more appropriate prescribing

To support these actions, Budget 2017 outlined an investment of:

  • $140.3 million over 5 years, starting in 2017-18
  • $18.2 million per year ongoing

These investments are for Health Canada, the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board (PMPRB) and the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (CADTH).

We will achieve our objectives by:

  • enhancing partnerships
  • making regulatory improvements
  • better connecting pharmaceutical management processes across the system

In addition, we will improve Canada’s drug information system, as part of broader efforts by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) and Canada Health Infoway’s e-prescribing initiative. CIHI’s efforts are supported by new investments of $53 million over 5 years, as outlined in Budget 2017.  

Affordability

Drug prices in Canada are among the highest in the developed world.

We are working with the provinces and territories to reduce drug costs. As a member of the pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance, we are combining our buying power with that of the provinces and territories to:

  • make prescription drugs more affordable for public drug plans
  • lower generic drug prices for all payers

We are also modernizing the way prescription drugs prices are regulated to better protect Canadian consumers from high prices for patented drugs.

In consultation with stakeholders and the public, we will strengthen the Patented Medicines Regulations under the Patent Act.

The Patented Medicine Prices Review Board will reform the guidelines it uses to implement the act and its regulations.

Accessibility

We will support more timely access to the latest medicines, while continuing to ensure their safety, quality and efficacy.

We are aligning our review process with health partners and expanding the priority review process to better respond to the needs of Canadians.

This includes work with CADTH, which advises governments’ public drug plans on the cost-effectiveness of new drugs to inform their listing decisions. Our work will include:

  • considering health care system needs in the criteria for priority reviews
  • providing joint guidance to drug companies early in their drug development process
  • aligning our respective review processes to allow important new drugs to be available sooner

Appropriate prescribing and use

We will help improve the quality and efficiency of care through more appropriate prescribing practices.

We are working with CADTH to advance policies and tools for appropriate prescribing that support the health care community, for example:

  • identifying best practices
  • supporting existing initiatives
  • promoting new implementation strategies

Our actions will help reduce the health risks and wasted resources that can result from the underuse, overuse and misuse of prescription drugs.

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