How did "Big Pharma" delay cheaper drug prices, again?

Reposted with permission from the Canadian Health Coalition. View original, initially posted on January 24, 2022. 

It was the day before Christmas Eve when the government issued a statement from Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos announcing delays to widely anticipated drug pricing changes.

“As the global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic persists and new variants of concern emerge that require urgent action, the Government of Canada is delaying the coming-into-force of the Regulations Amending the Patented Medicines Regulations by six months. These regulations will now come into force on July 1, 2022.”

Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos

Drug company lobbyists and their benefactors were clinking glasses all over Ottawa celebrating the early gift: new rules intended to lower drug process paid by Canadians and their governments were delayed once again.

It was the fourth delay since efforts to change the rules to reduce drug costs were started five years ago.

Pharmaceutical expert Dr. Joel Lexchin, a member of the Canadian Health Coalition’s Board of Directors, has published a new paper detailing the extensive lobbying done by drug companies to block the government’s attempts to get drug prices under control.

His new latest paper published by The Conversation this week, is titled “Lower drug prices are a priority for Canadians, but not for the federal government.”

“Lower drug prices are a priority for Canadians, but not for the federal government.”


He argues that the “Big Pharma” lobby, some drug-company-funded advocacy groups, a few doctors, and even U.S. government agencies and industry lobby groups have worked the Liberals hard. The delays are impacting Canadians’ wallets and their health.

“While the federal government has been bowing to the pharmaceutical industry, the amount that Canadians spend on medicines has continued to rise,” writes Dr. Lexchin. Citing research done by the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions, he adds, “The lack of affordability of prescription drugs could be causing 370 to 640 premature deaths due to heart disease every year.”