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Home Policy Articles: Health Care: Pharmaceutical

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A Lethal Guardian: The Canadian Government’s Ban on Prescription Drugs

In this paper, John Graham addresses a controversial policy of the Canadian government: when any new drug is invented and ready for distribution in Canada, the federal government responds by enforcing an automatic ban on its use. The ban is removed for patients who urgently need the drug, and the general ban is lifted only after the manufacturer has paid a user fee and waited for Health Canada to approve the drug. Graham argues this policy is harmful to the health of Canadians because it prevents patients from receiving treatments that might save their lives.
http://www.fraserinstitute.ca/admin/books/files/LethalGuardi...

Access Delayed, Access Denied. Waiting for Medicines in Canada

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.
http://www.fraserinstitute.ca/admin/books/files/AccessDelaye...

Brief to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health Study on Prescription Drugs

This brief report by John Graham provides an overview of key points pertaining to the issue of prescription drugs in Canada. Graham’s briefing was provided to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health: Study on Prescription Drugs on behalf of the Fraser Institute. Graham suggests mechanisms for reviewing and controlling the prices of all prescription drugs, mechanisms for approving new drugs and introducing them to the market, and provides international comparisons from which Canada can learn.
http://www.fraserinstitute.ca/admin/books/files/John-Graham....

Canada’s Drug Price Paradox: The Unexpected Losses Caused by Government Interference in Pharmaceutic

In this paper, Brett Skinner examines the Canadian government’s claim that its interference in pharmaceutical markets reduces prescription drug costs for Canadians. Skinner argues that Canadians pay much more than they should for generic drugs, that price controls on patented drugs are unnecessary, and that, in general, government pharmaceutical policy is failing to provide better outcomes than competitive markets could.
http://www.fraserinstitute.ca/admin/books/files/CanDrugPrice...

Canadian Pharmacare: Performance, Incentives, and Insurance

In this paper, Graham and Tabler examine provincial drug policy. They argue that since the 1970s, provincial governments have taken away the freedom of Canadians to choose the prescription drugs they use. The result has been that provincial drug-benefit plans account for almost one-half of Canada’s prescription drug spending, placing an undue burden on taxpayers. At the same time, they argue is has been difficult to see the benefit to patients who require the drugs.
http://www.fraserinstitute.ca/shared/readmore.asp?sNav=pb&id...

Drug Price Controls and Pharmaceutical Innovation

Drug costs in Canada have risen more quickly than other health care costs. As Valentin Petkantchin explains, this increase is not due to increases by multinational pharmaceutical companies, but rather to other factors including more frequent use of drugs and higher markups at the wholesale and retail levels.
http://www.iedm.org/uploaded/pdf/pharma_en.pdf

Generic Pharmaceuticals and Sector Development: Industry Chanllenges and Potential Solutions

With the emergence of the global economy, Canada has had to determine a course of action to maintain its production and economic stability.
http://www.ppforum.ca/common/assets/publications/en/report_g...

How should the value of new drugs be determined?

Rising drug costs in Canada’s health care system have raised overall concerns about the costs of new, patented drugs. As Valentin Petkantchin explains, many people believe the costs of producing patented drug prices are less than what drug companies state.
http://www.iedm.org/uploaded/pdf/oct04_en.pdf

Is BC’s Health Care System Sustainable? A Closer Look at the Costs of Aging and Technology

This paper, by Marc Lee, delves into the real costs involved in the health care system in British Columbia, and whether an aging population is the key factor contributing to its sustainability issues.
http://www.policyalternatives.ca/documents/BC_Office_Pubs/bc...

Medicine, Professionalism and Conscience: Is Pluralism “One Size Fits All”?

In this paper Cristina Alarcon explores “the false dichotomy and growing lack of tolerance towards religious belief that permeates the medical profession in Western society.”
http://www.culturalrenewal.ca/downloads/sb_culturalrenewal/o...

Paying for What Works: BC's Experience with the Reference Drug Program as a Model for Rational Policy Making

Alan Cassels’ report Paying for What Works: BC’s Experience with the Reference Drug Program as a Model for Rational Policy Making argues other jurisdictions can learn from British Columbia’s pharmaceutical funding program. Under the Reference Drug Program, Cassels explains, if more than one drug for the same condition has proven equally effective, the less expensive drug is classified as the ‘reference drug’ and only its full price is covered. Despite the vigorous opposition to the Reference Drug Program by pharmaceutical companies that felt their profits would be threatened, Cassels asserts the Program has saved British Columbia $44 million in health care expenses each year. He concludes by arguing that because the model saves money without harming patient care, it should be studied and applied by other jurisdictions.
http://www.policyalternatives.ca/documents/BC_Office_Pubs/rd...

Prescription Drug Prices in Canada and the U.S.

In this paper John Graham examines the illegal diversion of prescription drugs meant for Canadian patients to medically uninsured Americans who want prescriptions at Canadian prices. Graham points out that sales in this market are currently low, but argues that they will continue to grow unless the necessary actions are taken. He further notes that this burgeoning business has drawn criticism from physicians, pharmacists, community pharmacies, and research-based drug manufacturers alike.
http://www.fraserinstitute.ca/shared/readmore.asp?sNav=pb&id...

Risk, Progressive Licensing and the Health Benefits Lost by Over-Regulating New Drugs

Brett Skinner argues that government regulation of new drugs stifles market access and causes considerable loss to Canadian patients. He disputes the overly simplistic rationale that the market fails to protect consumers from dangerous drugs due to asymmetrical power relations between producers and consumers.
http://www.fraserinstitute.ca/admin/books/files/RiskLostHeal...

Rx For Canada: Close the Internet Pharmacies

Aidan Hollis and Aslam Anis argue that Internet pharmacies are a threat to domestic drug supplies and prices, and the federal government should close these businesses. They point out that international purchases from Canadian Internet pharmacies, especially those from the United States, have been relatively small up until now. They also argue that if the US federal government legalizes retail pharmaceutical imports, the problem could grow much worse.
http://www.cdhowe.org/pdf/commentary_205.pdf

Seniors and Drug Prices in Canada and the United States

This paper, written by Brett Skinner, expands on a previous study which found that brand name prescription drugs in the US are priced higher than in Canada, with the exact opposite holding true for generic drug prices – which are more expensive in Canada than in the US. In this study, Skinner considers only the prices of those drugs that are most important to consumers 65 years of age and older.
http://www.fraserinstitute.ca/admin/books/files/SnrsDrugPric...

The Fantasy of Reference Pricing and the Promise of Choice in BC's Pharmacare

The principal point in this article by John R. Graham is that “centralized judgments by a government appointed committee about the relative values of medicines are inferior to decentralized decision-making by the doctors and patients who actually use the drugs.” Graham highlights this point by explaining what he regards as the relatively prohibitive costs of the BC Pharmacare program in relation to programs available in other provinces (notably Quebec). He also takes issue with the fact that BC Pharmacare maintains the right to choose which medicines are “worth the money” – a stipulation he regards as fundamentally unethical.
http://www.fraserinstitute.ca/admin/books/files/graham.pdf

The Misguided War Against Medicines: Are Drug Expenditures Making Public Health Insurance Financially Unsustainable?

Brett Skinner and Mark Rovere analyze the costs associated with drug expenditures and the overall sustainability of Canada’s health care system.
http://www.fraserinstitute.ca/admin/books/files/MisguidedWar...

Universal Drug Benefits for Seniors: Unnecessary, Unsustainable, and Unfair

This brief Digital Publication by Brett Skinner was written in response to legislation passed in the United States granting universal eligibility to seniors for publicly funded prescription drugs. Skinner posits that this legislation is similar to provincial programs in Canada which reimburse seniors for prescription drug expenses, suggesting its intentions are noble – especially as many seniors often lose their employer-paid insurance upon retirement. He argues, however, that this method of universal coverage (based on age) is unnecessary when other, albeit more limited, policy options are available. Skinner believes that granting universal eligibility to seniors for publicly funded prescription drugs is inefficient policy, and unfair to all taxpaying citizens.
http://www.fraserinstitute.ca/admin/books/files/UniversalDru...