OTTAWA, March 24, 2017 /CNW/ - Mood Disorders Society of Canada (MDSC) today released a groundbreaking brief recommending action to improve Canadians' access to the medications they need and to strengthen patients' role in the approval of new life-saving medications.
As the brief makes clear, successful treatment of a debilitating illness such as depression — now the leading cause of disability worldwide — can hinge on patients being able to access the right medication. But as MDSC's research for the brief determined, Canadians suffering depression are too often prevented from obtaining the medications that would restore their full functionality and quality of life. People on limited incomes without private health plans, for example, cannot access medications unless they are publicly funded and the right one for them may not fall in that category.
In spite of having faster and broader access to medications, access is also an issue for Canadians with private health plans — where insurers delay in covering new medications or require that patients try less expensive medications first. Canadians may also lose access to their medications when they change jobs, move to another province or territory, or from hospital into the community.
"We must ensure that all Canadians have equitable access to the best medications that will treat their depression and restore wellness," said Phil Upshall, MDSC's Executive Director. "By depriving people of the most appropriate medications for their individual needs that can transform their lives, we are exacerbating the terrible toll depression takes on individuals and families — the hardest-hit being the most vulnerable people in society."
MDSC's brief also demonstrates that the newest and best medications developed for treating major depressive disorder are far less likely to be recommended for public drug plan coverage in Canada than new medications for non-mental health issues. Even when new medications for major depressive disorder (MDD) have been fully approved by Health Canada, they can remain inaccessible to the people who need them.
To help dismantle this barrier to access, MDSC urges that patients themselves be given a much stronger voice in the Canadian Agency for Medications and Technologies in Health. This non-profit, independent body evaluates Health Canada's findings and recommends whether a new medication should be publicly funded by provincial and federal drug plans. As MDSC emphasizes, patients' experiences of taking medications, and living with them, can add a uniquely valuable perspective on the evaluation of new medications and how widely they should be made accessible.
About the Mood Disorders Society of Canada
Mood Disorders Society of Canada was launched in 2001 to provide people with mood disorders, their families and caregivers a strong, cohesive voice at the national level on issues relating to mental health and mental illness. With particular regard to depression, bipolar disorder and other associated mood disorders, MDSC aims to improve access to treatment, inform research, shape program development and government policy to improve the quality of life for people affected by mood disorders.
SOURCE Mood Disorders Society of Canada
For further information: Joan Weinman, 613-294-5679