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MP says new drug rules “questionable”

Liberals laying groundwork for national pharmacare program

By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express

Oshawa MP Colin Carrie has questions about the timing of the federal government’s pledge to make prescription drugs more affordable.

Health Canada recently announced it was finalizing new regulations expected to save Canadians billions in drug costs over the next decade.

Measures include removing the United States and Switzerland, the countries with the highest drug costs in the world, from a list of countries used to compare prices.

The Patented Medicine Prices Review Board (PMPRB), which regulates drug prices in Canada, would also consider the cost-effectiveness of new medicines.

It would also require pharmaceutical companies to provide some confidential discounts to the PMPRB.

The changes were first announced in December 2017, and are expected to be in place by July 2020 if the Liberals remain in government.

Federal Minister of Health Ginette Petipas Taylor says these rules lay the foundation for a national pharmacare program.

Some drugmakers have argued against the plan, as it could affect their earnings.

Carrie says the new rules are being put in place “heavy handedly,” without proper consultation.

“We actually have to take some time to review this regulation. It’s questionable that they would bring this up just before the federal election,” he adds.

As far as the bigger picture, Carrie says the Liberals have been “promising their pharmacare plan for decades.”

“And they’ve done absolutely nothing about it,” he says.

A 2017 report by the Conference Board of Canada states about 98 per cent of Canadians have access to prescription drug coverage through either public or private plans.

Carrie says the Conservatives are “focused on bringing forward solutions that address the priorities of Canadians.” While he didn’t provide specifics, the local MP says his party will address pharmacare in its platform for the October election.

“We believe that all Canadians should have access to prescription drugs,” Carrie states, adding focus should be on making medicine more accessible to those facing barriers.