Senior, consumer and labour groups concerned about secret government agreements that threaten access to affordable medicines for Canadians



    OTTAWA, July 3 /CNW Telbec/ - A coalition of senior, consumer, and labour
groups announced today that they are investigating the recent trend of
provincial governments to enter into secret tender agreements with
pharmaceutical companies.
    A research report released today by Aidan Hollis, an economist at the
University of Calgary's Institute for Advanced Policy Research, suggests that
the coalition has cause to worry. Hollis's report demonstrates that BC
PharmaCare's recent use of a secret tender for olanzapine - a blockbuster
anti-psychotic drug - has resulted in out-of-pocket and privately-insured
patients in British Columbia paying the highest price for olanzapine in the
country.
    Hollis's findings have led the coalition to mobilize against the use of
secret government tendering for pharmaceuticals. At present, the coalition is
comprised of the following organizations:

    
    - Alliance of Seniors / Older Canadians Network
    - Canadian Pensioners Concerned Incorporated
    - National Union of Public and General Employees
    

    Derrell Dular, Managing Director of the Alliance of Seniors / Older
Canadians Network said: "We are concerned about whether recent cost
containment practices will actually result in higher drug prices for people
without drug benefits."
    Hollis's report suggests that not only is Dular's cost concern warranted
but also that secret tendering could lead to reduced access to drugs in the
future - even for PharmaCare. Hollis worries that generic drug manufacturers
will refuse to continue spending the money to end drug patent monopolies,
causing patients across the board to lose in the long run.
    James Clancy, National President of the National Union of Public and
General Employees (NUPGE), one of Canada's largest unions with over 340,000
members, said: "The B.C. government has entered into one secret agreement of
which we are aware and it threatens to enter into several more. The olanzapine
agreement has BC's citizens paying 63% more for the drug than those in Alberta
pay for the exact same drug. This alone suggests that the sole source
tendering strategy may be misguided."
    The group will be seeking a meeting with the B.C. Minister of Health to
voice their concerns. Hollis's report is available online at
http://www.iapr.ca/researchandpublications/groups/policybriefs




For further information:

For further information: Len Bush, National Representative, National
Union of Public and General Employees, (613) 327-1853; www.nupge.ca

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National Union of Public and General Employees

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