Quebec's recent decision to introduce a maximum price for one drug class
will lead to public drug plan patients receiving the cheapest drugs in
that class, even if their doctor has prescribed a completely different
one. This unilateral decision will have broad implications.
MISSISSAUGA, ON, March 18, 2013 /CNW Telbec/ - AstraZeneca Canada Inc.
is disappointed by the recent and unexpected decision made by the
Minister of Health, Social Services and Seniors (MSSS) to significantly
change the way Quebec patients living with serious gastrointestinal
conditions access their medications. Despite efforts made by
AstraZeneca Canada to partner with the government to address budgetary
and patient needs, the policy change will impact approximately 200,000
patients in Quebec. This change eliminates physician and patient
choice, undermines physician expertise and has the potential to cost
the provincial healthcare system more than it saves.
Beginning October 1, 2013, the Régie de l'assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ) will reimburse the Proton Pump Inhibitor (PPI) class of
medicines up to $0.55 per pill. This price cap means that unless
patients on PPIs are able to pay for the difference in cost, many
Quebec patients who rely on the full reimbursement of these medicines
will be forced to switch to an alternative treatment regardless of the
opinion of their physician, and without any reference to the previous
experience or current effectiveness of their medical care.
This drastic policy change was hastily introduced without thoughtful
consultation between the Ministry, patients, physicians, pharmacists
and other healthcare stakeholders impacted by this decision.
AstraZeneca Canada is extremely disappointed at the speed of the
decision, and believes the Minister did not take broader healthcare
system costs and benefits into account. As the experience of other
jurisdictions has shown - including British Columbia and the United
Kingdom - introducing policies that use cost-cutting considerations to
force patients off of their current, optimal treatment path results in
higher costs in the broader healthcare system that exceed any
short-term savings from medicines alone. Adopting such a policy in the
face of this evidence should be especially concerning to patients and
those that care for them.
"Putting patients first and ensuring the integrity of the
physician-patient relationship is at the core of our reaction to the
new policy changes introduced by the Quebec Health Ministry", says
Elaine Campbell, President, AstraZeneca Canada. "We want to ensure that
patients have access to the best available treatments and that
physicians are able to effectively treat their patients - practicing
patient-centred medicine and not approximate medicine."
"As a company we take great pride in delivering great medicines that
offer value to patients, their physicians and the healthcare system.
However, this cannot be achieved by us alone, which is why on multiple
occasions we, along with other key stakeholders, actively requested to
partner with the Quebec government to ensure the health of patients and
previous costly experiences of other healthcare systems were taken into
consideration when making this decision."
Despite these changes, AstraZeneca Canada remains committed to working
with governments across the country - including the MSSS, and we
encourage the MSSS to revisit their decision. AstraZeneca Canada is
willing to partner with the MSSS to identify solutions that address
legitimate concerns about the sustainability of our healthcare system
without compromising patient care.
About AstraZeneca Canada
AstraZeneca is a global, innovation-driven biopharmaceutical business
with a primary focus on the discovery, development and
commercialization of prescription medicines for gastrointestinal,
cardiovascular, neuroscience, respiratory and inflammation, oncology
and infectious disease. AstraZeneca operates in over 100 countries and
its innovative medicines are used by millions of patients worldwide.
AstraZeneca Canada recently donated $35 million to the NĒOMED Institute
- a not-for-profit organization that will pioneer a new approach to
drug development as a public-private partnership with the Quebec
government and bio-pharmaceutical companies. AstraZeneca's Canadian headquarters are located in Mississauga, Ontario.
For more information, please visit the company's website at www.astrazeneca.ca.
For further information:
AstraZeneca Canada Inc