Government of Canada taking action to protect Canadians from high prescription drug prices

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News Release

From Health Canada

Launches process to modernize the way patented drug prices are regulated

May 16, 2017              Ottawa, ON                 Health Canada

Prescription drugs make a difference every day in the lives of many Canadians, yet Canada pays some of the highest drug prices in the developed world for patented medicines. This curbs our ability to pay for them, and other health services that Canadians need.

Today, the Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Health, outlined the most significant suite of changes in over two decades in a comprehensive plan to protect Canadians from excessive drug prices. As a key part of that plan, the government is proposing changes to the way patented drug prices are regulated in Canada. Through amending the Patented Medicines Regulations to change the list of countries used for price comparison, the government will be in a better position to take advantage of lower drug prices in other countries, as well to consider value for money and affordability when setting the bar on excessive pricing.

This will be the first time in more than 20 years that the government has substantially updated the Patented Medicines Regulations. To help inform the development of these regulatory improvements, Health Canada is currently seeking input from stakeholders and interested Canadians. This online consultation will run from May 16 to June 28.

The resulting regulatory proposals are expected to be developed and posted in Canada Gazette, Part I, for further feedback by stakeholders and members of the public in the coming months.

Quick Facts

  • Canada’s patented drug prices are the third highest among countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which includes the world’s most advanced countries from North and South America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific. Additionally, OECD median prices are, on average, 22% below those in Canada. Source:
  • Budget 2017 outlined an investment of $140.3 million over five years, then $18.2 million ongoing annually, for Health Canada, the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board (PMPRB) and the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (CADTH).
  • The Government of Canada committed to improving Canada’s drug information system in Budget 2017, as part of broader efforts by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) and Canada Health Infoway’s e-prescribing initiative. CIHI’s efforts are supported by new investments of $53 million over five years.


“Canadians are paying too much for prescription drugs, and the Government of Canada is committed to making drugs more affordable. Modernizing our approach to the regulation of patented drug prices is a big step in this direction, and will complement the work we are already doing with the provinces and territories through the pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance to make prescription drugs cheaper. These measures will go a long way towards helping Canadians afford the medicines they need to live healthy, productive lives.”

The Honourable Jane Philpott
Minister of Health

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