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Tuesday, 25th August 2009

Government policies and drug plans often deprive Canadians of access to new medicines

Government policies and drug plans often deprive Canadians of access to new medicines
Source: Fraser Institute

After enduring lengthy waits for the federal government to approve new prescription drugs, Canadian patients all too often discover that their provincial drug plans will not pay for these new medicines, according to a new, peer-reviewed study from independent research organization the Fraser Institute.
Canada’s drug approval process involves two separate stages: First, Health Canada must certify a drug is safe and effective for public use, then provincial governments must decide if the drug will be covered by public health plans. This combination of federal and provincial decision-making creates delays or, more often, results in new drugs being unavailable to some patients.

“It takes more than 14 months, on average, for Health Canada to approve new medicines as safe and effective. And while private insurers will immediately cover those medicines, the provinces can take up to another year to decide if they will pay for the same drugs,” said Brett Skinner, Fraser Institute director of bio-pharma and health policy and author of Access Delayed, Access Denied: Waiting For New Medicines in Canada.

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