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April 27th, 2023

NDP Health Critic calls for Liberal minister to come clean about taking the side of big pharma over Canadians

OTTAWA — On Thursday, NDP Health Critic Don Davies is calling into question the Liberal government’s commitment to lower prescription drug prices for Canadians ahead of the parliamentary committee on health where the Health Minister is set to appear. The hearing is a result of Davies’ successful motion to hear from witnesses involved in a series of accusations and resignations at Canada’s patented medicines price regulator.

Davies says the minister’s direct interference in the arms-length regulator, the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board (PMPRB), in November 2022, to ask for the suspension of reforms that would lower medication prices for Canadians is incredibly troubling.

“How can Canadians trust the Liberals to lower prescription drug prices when they are using their power to delay reforms that would do just that?" asked Davies. “The minister, after being lobbied numerous times by pharmaceutical giants, personally asked the PMPRB to delay reforms that would lower medicine prices for patients. He chose to put Big Pharma’s profits over Canadians’ health and well-being – this is very concerning.”

Davies’ concerns about the minister’s interference were confirmed when Matthew Herder, a member of the PMPBR, resigned and sent an open letter about the incident. Davies added that the minister’s behavior raises major doubts about the Liberals’ credibility and their commitment to help Canadians struggling with the sky-high cost of living.

“In committee today, I will ask the minister how he expects Canadians to take his word about lowering drug prices when he works against their interests,” said Davies. “Our parents, our grandparents, our children, our neighbours suffer because they can’t afford medicine. This often results in people getting even sicker and sometimes in preventable deaths. This move from the minister is in addition to the Liberals abandoning drug price reforms last year that would have saved Canadians an additional $5.9 billion over 10 years – money that will remain in Big Pharma’s pockets.
“Because of New Democrats, Liberals will soon have to show if they are on the side of powerful companies and lobbyists or on the side of Canadians with the pharmacare legislation that needs to be passed by the end of this year. If they are truly on the side of Canadians, the legislation will implement a universal, comprehensive and public pharmacare program.”