May 11th, 2023
NDP calls out Trudeau’s Minister of Health for delaying a reform that would have saved Canadians $3 billion
Canadians pay the third highest pharmaceutical drug prices in the world, yet the Liberals are using their power to defend the interests of big pharma instead of helping Canadians afford life-saving medication.
OTTAWA— On Thursday morning, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and NDP health critic, Don Davies, called on the Liberals to stop protecting the profits of big pharma and cut the price of patented medications.
Through ATIP, New Democrats obtained a memo from the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board (PMPRB) acting chair to Minister Duclos in December 2021. The memo warned the minister that, despite 110 hours of consultation with big pharma, the industry was not engaging constructively and would oppose any reform put forward to lower drug prices for Canadians and reduce big pharma’s profits.
Almost a year later, during which time big pharma lobbied Health Canada 126 times –more than ten times a month— the minister requested the PMPRB suspend their work to implement a reform that could save Canadians $3 billion in order to continue consultations.
“After promising to reduce the price of medication in 2017, the Liberals are clearly doing everything they can to delay a reform that could significantly reduce drug prices for Canadians,” said Singh. “No one should have to make the impossible choice between paying rent or filling a prescription. But that’s the reality people are facing. And we’re in this position because Liberal and Conservative governments have given too much power and influence to big pharmaceutical companies. New Democrats are calling on Liberals to stop taking the side of big pharma and do everything they can to get this bare minimum reform implemented.”
Three members of the PMPRB, Matthew Herder, Douglas Clark and Mélanie Bourassa-Forcier, resigned following Minister Duclos’ request to stop the implementation of the reform to lower drug prices. In a previous report, the Parliamentary Budget Officer estimated that the proposed change may, over the long-term, lower expenditures on patented drugs by seven per cent, reaching 19 per cent if reassessment of prices occurs more frequently. This could make a massive difference in people’s lives.
“This whole story shamefully shows who the Liberals are working for. Since promising to act in 2017, they have been busier defending the profits of big pharma than reducing the price of medication,” said Davies. “And it’s Canadians who are paying the price —people who need to spend more than $20,000 a year for medications like Humira to treat Crohn’s disease or arthritis. In the meantime, the company producing that patented drug made $200 billion from the sale of this drug in the past 20 years and the CEO, Richard Gonzalez, made $26.2 million in 2022 alone. The Liberals could fix that right now if they truly believe in cutting the price of medication for Canadians. We are calling on them to do just that and to put patients above big pharma profits.”