Expansion of ineffective Common Drug Review disputed by patients

    TORONTO, April 16 /CNW/ - In response to a recent Common Drug Review
(CDR) announcement, the Best Medicines Coalition expressed dismay that the
program is being expanded despite broad criticism regarding its effectiveness
and ability to meet its original mandate. Furthermore, the Best Medicines
Coalition questioned the timing of the April 12 announcement, given that the
federal Standing Committee on Health is today beginning a study of the CDR,
specifically seeking views on recent criticisms of the program.
    The Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (CADTH)
announced approval from federal, provincial and territorial governments for
the CDR to begin reviewing new indications for previously approved drugs, in
addition to its original focus of new drugs. The CDR was established in 2002
to conduct reviews of the clinical and cost-effectiveness of drugs and make
recommendations about reimbursement issues to participating publicly-funded
drug plans.
    "We are disappointed that the Common Drug Review has been given more
power when in fact it has proven to be a largely ineffectual body. It has not
been successful in meeting some of its main targets, including creating a
level playing field for treatment in this country, conducting timely reviews
and cutting bureaucratic duplication," said Louise Binder, chair of the Best
Medicines Coalition, a national group of organizations whose members represent
10 million Canadians living with or affected by chronic diseases.
    The CADTH announcement came as patient groups and other stakeholders
prepare to offer their insights to the Standing Committee on Health which
commenced its review of the CDR today. Hearings on this topic are scheduled to
continue for several weeks, with the expressed purpose of gathering views on
the CDR's effectiveness, including long-standing criticisms such as
duplication, limited input and lack of timely access to drugs.
    "The Standing Committee's consideration of the Common Drug Review is
important and necessary and it is clearly inappropriate that that it be given
additional authorization before there has been a full discussion regarding its
ability to effectively meet the terms of its core mandate," Binder added.
    The Best Medicines Coalition is scheduled to appear before the Standing
Committee on Health on May 9, presenting its evaluation of the CDR, with
specific treatment examples, from the perspective of Canadian patients. Formed
in 2002, the Best Medicines Coalition is an alliance of organizations and
individuals, representing those living with or affected by chronic disease or
illness, who are concerned about drug review reform, treatment access, patient
safety and general health policy development.

For further information:

For further information: Paulette Eddy, Best Medicines Coalition, (416)
622-3893, E-mail paulette@bestmedicines.ca

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