International Report Shows Access Gaps Persist Despite Improvements to
Canadian Public Drug Plans

OTTAWA, Nov. 2 /CNW/ -

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Canadian patients have less access to the latest medicines when compared to the world's developed countries, concludes a comprehensive new report released today. The Report shows Canada ranks 20th out of 25 OECD countries in public reimbursement of new drug therapies. Canada's grade of 56% is comparable with Iceland, Slovakia and Turkey. These are the key findings in the Rx&D International Report on Access to Medicines 2008-09 prepared by Wyatt Health Management.

"Federal and provincial governments in Canada have been working to improve access, but important gaps persist," said Russell Williams, President of Rx&D. "We want to work in partnership with governments, patients and health providers to close the access gaps identified in this Report so that Canadians who rely on public drug plans have access to the medications they need to live longer, healthier and more productive lives."

"Seniors and low income families who rely on public coverage in Canada are not getting access to the same choice of innovative drugs available to seniors in the U. S. and public drug plans in the overwhelming majority of European countries," said George Wyatt, President of Wyatt Health Management. "The Report raises several important questions, most notably: What does Canada need to do to expand drug coverage and better protect its citizens and residents?"

The Rx&D International Report on Access to Medicines 2008-09 examines public drug plans in 25 OECD countries. The Report builds on the findings of last year's Report and adds 7 new countries to the analysis. Findings include:

    -   Canada and the U.S. are in a virtual tie for last place compared to
        the other countries on public spending on pharmaceuticals.

    -   Canadians rely to a greater degree on private drug plans: 44.1%
        receive coverage from private plans compared to the 14.8% average of
        the other countries.

    -   More Canadians are falling through the cracks in terms of access to
        drug plan coverage than any other country except the United States.
        10% of Canadians, including many people in low-wage jobs, do not have
        access to any drug plan while in the U.S., the percentage is 15%.

    -   Canadians pay higher than average out of pocket expenditures for

    Patient Access and choice of medicines: Where Patients in Canada Stand

    -   In an analysis of 82 new drugs common to all jurisdictions studied,
        Canada's Common Drug Review (CDR) recommended only 56% of drugs
        submitted for review. This is far less than the 73% reimbursement
        average for the other countries.

    -   By comparison Denmark, Germany, Finland, Great Britain, Norway,
        Portugal and the U.S. reimburse over 90% of these drugs.

    Biologics and "First in Class"

    -   In biologic drugs, Canada ranks at the bottom with New Zealand,
        reimbursing just 35% of these treatments compared to the U.S. at 94%.
        Of the 24% drugs identified as First in Class: Canada was one of five
        countries reimbursing less than 50%.

    -   This means for example that if patients have a rare disease, require
        enzyme replacement therapy or have Alzheimer's, osteoporosis,
        Parkinson's, diabetes, cancer or another illness, they may not have
        the same access to appropriate care under a public plan in Canada
        compared to patients in other countries.

Patients Come First

To raise awareness of the Report's findings, Rx&D is launching an interactive website Patients, caregivers, their families and health providers can share their stories and propose solutions to broaden the range of treatment options for all Canadians regardless of level of income or where they may live.

"Our common goal is to improve patient outcomes and also make our health care system more sustainable," concluded Mr Williams. "New medicines and vaccines improve and save lives while reducing hospitalization, surgery and other health costs."

Why it Matters: The Value of Innovative Medicines

Innovative medicines are proven cost-savers as they help patients live longer, more productive lives; reduce costs related to employee absenteeism and disability; and lessen demand on other, more expensive areas of the health care system, such as hospital stays and surgeries. At the same time, industry investments into research and development of innovative new therapies create high quality jobs and help grow our economy.

Public drug plans were developed so that patients, seniors and lower income families could have access to the latest medicines and drug therapies for cancer, heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, mental illness and other conditions.

About Rx&D

Rx&D is an association of leading research-based pharmaceutical companies dedicated to improving the health of all Canadians through the discovery and development of new medicines and vaccines. Our community represents 18,000 men and women working for close to 50 member companies and invests more than $1 billion in research and development each year to fuel Canada's knowledge-based economy. Guided by our Code of Ethical Practices, our membership is committed to working in partnership with governments, healthcare professionals and stakeholders in a highly ethical manner.

SOURCE CNW Enriched News Releases

For further information: For further information: François Lessard, Communications, Telephone: (613) 236-0455, E-mail:

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