Federal Health Minister Dr. Jane Philpott made headlines this week with her vow to lower “unacceptably high drug costs” for Canadians. Save Your Skin Foundation was in Ottawa to attend the Minister’s announcement on “improving affordability, accessibility and appropriate use of drugs in Canada.” This is big news as it may well have a profound impact on drug prices in the country.
Many Canadians are unaware of how many barriers cancer patients face when attempting to access treatments. Now that there are finally new innovative cancer treatments available, drug prices have become a controversial issue. Many treatments are only conditionally covered by Provincial Healthcare leaving many patients with nothing, or the option to pay tens of thousands of dollars for a chance at survival. Treatment options are also not the same across the country, leaving patients in some provinces at a disadvantage.
Louise Binder, a Drug Policy expert that works at Save Your Skin, commented on the announcement:
“Patients requiring effective but high-cost drugs for life threatening conditions, including oncology, certainly support steps to moderate prices and ensure access to all people in Canada who need them. As always, the devil is in the details. We are pleased that the Minister committed to meaningful patient engagement at every step in the process.”
Binder has been analyzing this issue for years on behalf of patient groups. In addition to consulting with Save Your Skin Foundation, Binder is a co-founding member of the Drug Pricing Policy Working Groups, brought together after the 2016 Drug Pricing Policy Summit co-sponsored by Save Your Skin Foundation, Schizophrenia Society of Ontario and Canadian Cancer Survivor Network.
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