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Past Meetings

Rx&D ON CANADA’S “INNOVATION AGENDA”
Pharmaceutical Industry Can Play Important Role

At PMCQ’s first meeting of the season, Aldo Baumgartner, President of Wyeth-Ayerst and Chairman of Rx&D delivered compelling insights on the complexities of establishing a “right environment” in Canada and the consequences of failing to do so.

Quoting a mandate from this year’s parliamentary Speech from the Throne - where government defined innovation as key to Canada’s goal to rank among the top five countries recognised for research and development, Dr. Baumgartner also provided context for PMCQ: Canada currently ranks 15th.

“Canada has a long way to go, but I think we can achieve the goal if the right environment is created. The pharmaceutical industry can play an important role in moving the government’s innovation agenda forward,” he stated.

On the list of challenges faced by industry, and quite apart from the ongoing challenge of researching and developing effective medicines to treat and cure diseases, are: patent protection which currently lags behind Europe, the United States and Japan; data protection, where third parties can copy drug discoveries submitted to Health Canada after only five years. Health Canada’s drug approval times which take approximately 7 months longer than the FDA’s and PMPRB’s price minimisation trend which has caused Canadian prices for medicines to drift below international median prices of comparator countries.

In relation to the price minimisation trend, Baumgartner stated, “This pricing differential has led to a situation which is now threatening the availability of new medications in Canada”.

Yet no challenge, PMCQ members were reminded, is greater than that of ensuring access to medicines by Canadians who need them. And the issue is formulary listings at the Provincial level and product reimbursement.

Despite substantial investments made by Rx&D member-companies into research and development - investment that has risen almost 700% in the past 12 years and represents the largest such increase of any industrialised country - despite partnering with and supporting all-level government initiatives, establishing disease management programs with public and private stakeholders and strengthening the code on marketing practices, perceptions of mistrust continue to fog the windows-on-industry.

In closing, Baumgartner expressed the view that is shared by all Rx&D member companies. “We will continue to establish, support and maintain collaborative partnerships in this country because we believe in a future where government’s healthcare resources can be maximised, and where meeting the needs of Canadians can set a world standard,” he concluded.

By Mary Anne Pankhurst
Concordia University Press