Weekly Top Stories: PMPRB to restart drug price reform consultations; and Federal and provincial government investments to improve life sciences and healthcare

Published on
October 30, 2023
Written by
Delphic Research
Read time
6 min

In this week's roundup of top stories, we have seen some movement within the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board (PMPRB) and investments in Canada's coasts.

Dr. Emily A. Reynen, an intensive care physician at Quinte Health Care Belleville General Hospital, has received a five-year appointment to the PMPRB following a rigorous merit-based selection process by the federal government.

The agency is preparing for a roundtable discussion in December, although the timeline for implementing new guidelines remains uncertain. These reforms aim to reduce the cost of patented drugs in Canada but have encountered setbacks and legal challenges. So far, the only successfully implemented measure is the comparison of Canadian drug prices to those in other countries.

The PMPRB is resuming consultations on drug price reform after a year-long delay, attributed to the resignation of several board members and the executive director. Canada's drug pricing ranks third globally, trailing only the United States and Switzerland, making the need for reform all the more pressing.

Shifting our focus to broader health initiatives across Canada, various regions are making significant investments in healthcare. The federal government is allocating substantial repayable contributions to six pioneering life sciences companies in Nova Scotia, with repayable contributions totaling $2,989,259. The primary focus will be on enhancing health outcomes through product improvements, increased production capacity, efficiency enhancements, and market expansion.

Similarly, in British Columbia, the government is making significant investments in research infrastructure, with $2.5 million in funding through the B.C. Knowledge Development Fund. They are directing $125,000 to the Loucks Pain Management Pharmacogenomics (PMP) lab at the University of British Columbia. This lab’s mission is to improve patient outcomes, especially for young patients at the B.C. Children’s Hospital, by leveraging genetic discoveries and predictive genetic testing strategies to guide clinical decision-making.

Meanwhile, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) are collaborating with partners to boost health research and integrated care policies and practices. Their substantial $26.6 million investment will support 13 implementation science teams and a knowledge mobilization and impact hub, fostering cooperation among researchers, policymakers, and healthcare providers.  

The research initiatives encompass a wide array of healthcare challenges, from implementing digital solutions for remote care to enhancing sexual health services in pharmacies, improving care coordination for individuals with long COVID and chronic pain, advancing mental health support in underserved communities, and facilitating smoother transitions from hospital to home for older adults.

In the context of the broader healthcare landscape in Canada, Health Minister Mark Holland recently presented the annual report on public health. This report sheds light on the increasing frequency and intensity of emergencies, including climate-related events, as well as the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

It advocates for a shift towards a public health approach to emergencies, focusing on foundational conditions that promote community health and resilience. This approach emphasizes community engagement, empowerment, and partnerships, particularly with marginalized populations, with a call to integrate equity considerations throughout the emergency management cycle.

Moreover, alongside these public health considerations, the Fourth Annual Report on Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) for 2022 was released. This report highlights a substantial increase in medically assisted deaths, with 13,241 MAID provisions in 2022, constituting 4.1% of all deaths in Canada and marking a significant 31.2% growth from the previous year.

In addition, the Canadian Medical Association (CMA), in collaboration with MD Financial Management (MD) and Scotiabank, has introduced the Health Care Unburdened Grant. This $10 million initiative aims to reduce the administrative burden on physicians and improve patient care.  

The grant program will provide financial support of $500,000 to $1 million to up to 15 organizations offering innovative solutions to streamline administrative work and enhance physician well-being. This initiative addresses the pressing issue of physician burnout due to administrative tasks, as evidenced by the CMA's National Physician Health Survey, where many physicians reported declining mental health and challenges in providing patient care due to administrative burdens.

Applications for the Health Care Unburdened Grant are open until December 12, 2023, with the goal of alleviating administrative workloads and enabling physicians to focus more on patient care.  

These combined efforts represent a comprehensive approach to healthcare improvement in Canada, with the potential to create a more accessible system for its citizens.

To know more about what is happening in your industry, book a free consultation now with Delphic Research!

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