Pharma industry group blasts PMPRB for downplaying value of innovative meds

IMC calls on Canadian government to immediately suspend existing subpar PMPRB draft Guidelines consultation

Pharma industry group blasts PMPRB for downplaying value of innovative meds

The national voice of Canada’s innovative pharmaceutical industry is expressing disappointment over “inaccurate and misleading information” on innovative medicines in Canada that’s been presented in a new government report.

In a statement, Innovative Medicines Canada (IMC) slammed the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board's (PMPRB) 2021 Annual Report, suggesting that it downplays the research-based pharmaceutical sector’s role in health outcomes of Canadians, and its contribution to the economy.

“IMC calls on the Canadian [g]overnment to immediately suspend the current abbreviated and inadequate PMPRB draft Guidelines consultation process,” the association said.

PMPRB's basket of comparator countries showed that Canadian prices were still in the middle of the pack in 2021, with median overseas costs being 12% higher than Canadian prices.

According to the most recent PMPRB report, "prices for existing medicines are fairly stable," suggesting that novel medicines offered in Canada are not too expensive, contrary to what some industry voices say, and are not significantly rising in price in relation to the Consumer Price Index.

Because PMPRB adopts a “flawed and outdated definition” of R&D spending from 1987, the board also often understates industry R&D expenditures, IMC said.

Citing the most recent Statistics Canada report that utilizes modern criteria, IMC said Canada’s research-based pharmaceutical industry poured more than $2.2 billion in research and development (R&D) in 2019, up 13% from the previous year, contributed $15 billion to the economy, and supported more than 100,000 high-value jobs annually.

The R&D to sales ratio for the industry may be calculated using this data, and is projected to be 8.8%, which is much higher than the PMPRB's assessment.

“To ensure Canadians get better access to new medicines, the Government of Canada must suspend the current PMPRB Guidelines consultation and replace it with a whole-of-government approach,” IMC said. “This broader consideration would allow for a proper and thorough impact assessment of the revised Guidelines on Canadian access to innovative medicines.”

The association argued that adopting a comprehensive approach would also capture the detrimental effects of the updated PMPRB Guidelines on other crucial federal government health sector initiatives, such as Canada's National Strategy for Drugs for Rare Diseases and the Biomanufacturing and Life Sciences Strategy.