IMC calls on Canada’s premiers to improve patient access to medicines

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Press Release

Ottawa, July 5, 2023 – Health care remains top of mind heading into the Council of the Federation Summer Meeting in Winnipeg next week, as provinces and territories prepare individual action plans relating to the Canada Health Transfer. However, there are a number of other critical health-care priorities which would benefit from federal-provincial-territorial collaboration, such as the need to improve timely access to innovative medicines, including drugs for rare diseases.

Canadians wait two years, on average, for access to new medicines through public drug plans following Health Canada approval, which is nearly double the average time for access amongst 20 peer OECD countries. For rare disease drugs, approval alone in Canada can take up to six years longer than in the U.S. or Europe, according to the Canadian Organization for Rare Disorders.

In late March, the federal government announced $1.4 billion in available funding to the provinces and territories through bilateral agreements as part of its National Strategy for Drugs for Rare Diseases. The strategy aims to improve access to screening, diagnostics, and treatments for the three million Canadians who suffer from a rare disease – two-thirds of whom are children.

IMC urges provinces and territories to move forward with these bilateral agreements with the federal government to make a meaningful difference in the lives of rare disease patients and their loved ones. 

Provinces and territories also have an opportunity to advance pharmacare and fill gaps in patient coverage similar to the existing agreement between Prince Edward Island and the federal government. This model ensures Canadians can continue to benefit from the current public/private drug coverage system in Canada while addressing the unique needs of each jurisdiction.

Faster access to new medicines and vaccines reduces hospitalizations, improves quality of life for patients, and makes Canada a more attractive destination for future investment and innovation. IMC is committed to working with governments and other health stakeholders to ensure all Canadians have timely access to life-saving medicines and vaccines.

About Innovative Medicines Canada

Innovative Medicines Canada is the national association representing the voice of Canada’s innovative pharmaceutical industry. The association advocates for policies that enable the discovery, development, and delivery of innovative medicines and vaccines to improve the lives of all Canadians and supports the members’ commitment to being a valued partner in the Canadian healthcare system. The association represents 49 companies that invest nearly $1.4 billion in R&D annually, fueling Canada’s knowledge-based economy, while contributing $8 billion to Canada’s economy. Guided by the Code of Ethical Practices, all members work with governments, private payers, healthcare professionals, and stakeholders in a highly ethical manner.

For further information:

Marise Varanda
Director, Media Relations & Content
Telephone: 613-462-5367


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