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Coming Soon: Pay Less for Prescription Drugs in Canada

by De C - August 19 , 2019


Canada Drug Prices
Canada Drug Prices
Canada has made its first step toward lowering drug prices with new drug price reform.

In America, Canada is already synonymous with cheaper drug prices. However, Canadians might not feel the same, and for good reason. A study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that for common conditions like high blood pressure or cholesterol, Canada had the 2nd highest medication costs.

The good news is, this week the Canadian government announced new regulations that will save Canadians more than $13.2 billion on drug prices over the course of a decade. While Canada’s prices might be cheaper than the United States, part of the problem for Canadians stems from the fact that the government-funded universal healthcare system doesn’t cover prescription medications. Instead, Canadians pay for their prescription drugs with a hodgepodge of public or private insurance plans. To add insult to injury, there has been very little oversight and pressure placed on pharmaceutical companies to bring their prices down or make them more affordable for consumers. That’s all about to change.

Biggest Drug Price Reform Since 1987

The Patented Medicine Prices Review Board (PMPRB) was established in 1987 but hasn’t been substantially updated since it was formed. A lot has changed since the late 80’s in terms of the way the public consumes, purchases, and pays for their medications, too. Think back to 1987 and you’ll be able to see a number of gaping holes in the dilemma. For starters, online drug purchasing wasn’t even a thing. Not to mention the number of medications taken by the average consumer has risen.

This new reform will attack excessive drug prices in a three-tiered approach. First, they’re adding in measures to determine if a drug’s pricing is set too high. Second, they are making reporting requirement changes to help the board decide if a medication is at a greater risk for excessive pricing. Third, they will be updating the countries Canada compares its drug prices to (and little hint: it means the United States is no longer on the list of comparisons).

Instead, it Canada will be comparing drug prices to countries similar to themselves—which includes France, Germany, Ital, Japan, Spain, Norway, Australia, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Everything is set to go into effect July 1, 2020 and will impact any medications getting drug identification numbers from this point forward.

Big Pharma Expected to Push Back

According to Reuters, drug companies offered to freeze prices, and in some cases, reduce the prices for certain treatments. However, Health Canada ultimately rejected the proposals, saying Big Pharma’s outdated pricing models and justifications for sky-high price tags simply don’t withstand scrutiny. Instead, it was just a way to cover their bottom line and hold onto their profits, while Canadian consumers continue to suffer.

While consumers feel this is a good first step in the right direction, one concern with the new regulations has to do with investors looking elsewhere when it comes to developing new medicines and placing investments in Canada’s life sciences sector.

Could US Prices Be Next?

Meanwhile, consumers in the US are just as angry about rising drug costs as their Canadian counterparts and the pressure is certainly on to reign in prices here, too. On July 31, the United States said it would consider developing a system that would allow Americans to purchase cheaper drugs out of Canada. It’s a 2016 promise the Trump campaign highlighted, but so far, it’s unclear how soon Americans would even see it implemented.

However, importation of cheaper drugs is supported across the political spectrum. Both Democrats and Republicans alike are feeling the heat from their constituents to bring down the cost of prescription medications. Especially in the face of new regulations, like the ones happening in Canada.

Can Canada’s Drug Supply Keep Up?

Canada wasn’t consulted on the specifics of any US plans to allow importation of cheaper Canadian drugs. After the Trump administration’s announcement last week, concerns arose about the increased possibility of more drug shortages. Both Canadian pharmacists and patient advocacy groups feared the Canadian drug supply may not be able to keep up with the demand in covering consumers on both sides of the border. If Canadians go to their pharmacy and find it’s backordered, it defeats the purpose of their price savings and simply pushes the problem from paying too much, to not being able to get the drug at all.

However, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau commented that after visiting with Health Canada officials, he feels there is a “steady and solid supply,” regardless of these internal and external pressures.

How Else Can Canadians Save on Prescription Medications?

For Canadians who are still seeking to reduce their prescription medication costs before next summer, there are various drug programs to check into. One such program in Ontario is the Trillium Drug Program, which helps Ontarians pay for their drug costs. If you are over 65, you may qualify for the Ontario Drug Benefit program.

As always, Canada Wide Pharmacy offers some of the lowest Canada drug prices around. Talk to one of our customer service agents by calling 1-877-240-4438. If you’re looking to save money online, all you have to do is search for the medication you’re looking for and buy it here in our online pharmacy BC. Mail your doctor’s original prescription or your doctor can fax or email the prescription directly to the pharmacy and you’re good to go. Saving money on your next prescription is just that simple.

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