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.
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