Canada's Generic Drug Makers Ready to Work with All Federal Parties to Enhance Prescription Drug Coverage for Canadians

    After 20 Years of Big Pharma's Broken Promises, Canadians and Their
    Health-Care System Must Come First

    TORONTO, Oct. 9 /CNW/ - After reviewing responses to its election survey
of federal leaders and the parties' platforms, the Canadian Generic
Pharmaceutical Association (CGPA) said today that prescription drug coverage
for Canadians can be improved regardless of the makeup of the next Parliament.
    "In terms of improving prescription drug coverage, there is clearly
common ground to be found with the federal political parties," said Jim Keon,
President of CGPA. "We are committed to working with the government Canadians
elect next Tuesday to enhance patients' access to affordable prescription
    Keon said that CGPA has several proposals to enhance and improve
cost-effective prescription drug coverage for Canadians that will be brought
forward once Canadians have elected their next government. He added that,
after 20 years of concessions to brand-name drug companies, the time has come
for the federal government to put the interests of Canadians and the
sustainability of their health-care system ahead of the narrow economic
interests of Big Pharma.
    "Twenty years of concessions to Big Pharma have not resulted in the
investments that Canadians were promised when the federal government first
increased their monopolies in 1987," Keon said. "Along with these broken
promises on R&D investment, Canadians continue to pay a premium for so-called
'new' drugs, which unfortunately may not be any more effective, or any safer,
than proven medicines that are available at much lower costs."
    A June 2008 report from Canada's Patented Medicines Prices Review Board
(PMPRB) highlighted Big Pharma's broken promises to Canadians:

    -   For seven consecutive years, pharmaceutical patentees have failed to
        meet the minimum commitments for R&D spending in Canada that were
        made to the Canadian government when Big Pharma's state-sanctioned
        and enforced market monopolies were increased in 1987. Pharmaceutical
        patentees spent only 8.3 per cent of their revenues on research and
        development in 2007, below the 10 per cent threshold to which the
        industry committed in 1987.

    -   Patentees reported spending $259 million on basic research that has
        the potential to lead to new therapies in 2007, representing only 2
        per cent of their Canadian sales revenue. The bulk of the patentees'
        R&D expenditures were focused on activities required to seek Health
        Canada approval for products developed in other jurisdictions.

    -   Relative to other countries, increased pharmaceutical patent
        protection has not resulted in more research and development in
        Canada. In 2005, of all countries examined by the PMPRB, only Italy
        (6.8 per cent) had a lower R&D-to-sales ratio than Canada (8.3 per
        cent). Ratios in all other comparator countries were well above
        Canada's ratio.

    -   Of the 151 new active substances introduced in Canada between 2001
        and 2006, only 14 (less than 10 per cent) were categorized by the
        PMPRB as a "breakthrough" or "substantial improvement" over existing
        drug products.

    Keon pointed out that, not only do Canada's generic drug makers fill half
of all prescriptions in Canada for only 22 per cent of the country's
$20-billion annual drug spend, they also invest fully 15 per cent of their
Canadian sales in research and development, nearly double that of brand-name
drug companies. And because most generic drugs sold in Canada are made in
Canada, increasing the use of generic drugs is good for the economy as well as
the sustainability of the health-care system.
    "A dollar spent on a generic drug results in more jobs, more investment
in R&D and more investment in pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity in Canada
than a dollar spent on a brand-name drug," said Keon. "Setting aside the
significant savings that generic drugs bring to our health-care system, it
does not make sense for Canada to continue to pander to Big Pharma at the
expense of the generic industry at time when our manufacturing sector is
    The PMPRB's findings and other information related to prescription drug
issues in Canada are contained in the report The Real Story Behind Big
Pharma's R&D Spending in Canada, 2008, copies are available at

    About the Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association

    The Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association (CGPA) represents
Canada's generic drug industry - a dynamic group of companies that specialize
in the production of high quality, affordable generic drugs and fine chemicals
and in conducting the clinical trials required for government approval of
generic drugs. The industry plays an important role in controlling health-care
costs in Canada. Generic drugs are dispensed to fill 50 per cent of all
prescriptions but account for only 22 per cent of the $20-billion Canadians
spend annually on prescription medicines.

For further information:

For further information: Jeff Connell, Director of Public Affairs,
Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association (CGPA), Tel: (416) 223-2333, Cell:
(647) 274-3379, Email:

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