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HomePolicy Articles Article Summary

Access Delayed, Access Denied. Waiting for Medicines in Canada

Digital Publication by Brett Skinner, Mark Rovere, Courtney Glen

Brett Skinner, Mark Rovere, and Courtney Glen analyze the time that patients must wait between the discovery of a new drug and its availability to Canadian consumers. The authors note that, on average, a drug takes 10 years to develop from the initial patent of discovery until its application for review with the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and subsequent approval for the US market. They note that in Canada, this delay is lengthened by a mandatory Health Canada review of a drug’s safety and efficacy, as well as provincial-level decisions to add the new drug to the list of reimbursable drugs. On average, these measures add more than a year beyond FDA approval before a drug may be deemed ready for market in Canada.

The authors provide policy proposals to reduce the delays at both the federal and provincial levels of government oversight. The authors contend that the Canadian federal government’s duplication of regulatory measures could be avoided by harmonizing with US and European regulatory bodies, thereby affording patients access immediately after US review. US FDA review is generally faster due to the FDA’s greater resources. Skinner, Rovere, and Glen also recommend that Health Canada adopt a user-fee process wherein companies seeking approval pay a fee for review; this would give the agency greater resources. Such a program would, however, need to be accompanied by government performance goals, the authors stipulate.

Lastly, the authors assert that through a combination of harmonization and user fees Canada could compete with other participating jurisdiction for user fees and increase the productivity of the drug review process. With regard to improving provincial reimbursement evaluation times, the authors recommend “moving to a regulated, competitive, private market for health insurance” that would ensure rapid evaluation and universal coverage. Skinner, Rovere, and Glen conclude that in a system of universal health coverage, everyone is affected by delays in access, and measures must be taken to improve the efficiency and efficacy of the system in delivering timely care to patients.

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Policy Publication Details

Author(s): Brett Skinner; Mark Rovere; Courtney Glen;
Publisher: Fraser Institute [ Visit Website ]
Year Published: 2007; Publisher Type: Research Institute
Publicly Available: Yes Research Focus: National;
Registration Required: No Language: English
Payment Required: No Publication Format: Adobe PDF

Subjects / Categories:

Policy Articles / Health Care / Accountability
Policy Articles / Welfare & Social Issues / Health Care
Policy Articles / Health Care / Wait Times
Policy Articles / Health Care
Policy Articles / Welfare & Social Issues
Policy Articles / Health Care / Pharmaceutical
Policy Articles / Health Care / Accountability / 2007
Policy Articles / Health Care / Pharmaceutical / 2007
Policy Articles / Health Care / Wait Times / 2007
Policy Articles / Welfare & Social Issues / Health Care / 2007


Keywords / Tags:

health; health care; pharmaceuticals; drug plan; wait times; accessibilty; privitization; USA; Europe; patents; patients;