The capture of Canadian drug regulation by pharmaceutical lobbyists

Political influence of drug regulators suspected as resignations plague agency accusing Health Minister Duclos of prioritizing pharma interests over the well-being of Canadians.

The capture of Canadian drug regulation by pharmaceutical lobbyists
The Canadian Press / Adrian Wyld
Remove Ads

Drug regulators were condemning the “hard reality” of political influence by pharmaceutical lobbyists, as reported by Blacklock’s.

“The pharmaceutical industry is simply not amenable to any measure that would further constrain its ability to sell patented medicines in Canada at free market prices,” said the Memorandum To The Minister Of Health. The document (dated December 8, 2021) was written by the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board (PMPRB).

PMPRB is a federal agency tasked with monitoring drug prices and works at arms length from the Ministry of Health.

“The hard reality is even wealthy countries like the U.S. and Canada find themselves at an increasing disadvantage in their dealings with a sophisticated, transnational trillion-dollar pharmaceutical industry when seeking to advance reforms that put long-term sustainability over short-term profitability,” read the board's memo.

The NDP has been probing the failure of Canada’s Health Minister, Yves Duclos, to move forward with drug pricing regulations that would see the cost of medications lowered for Canadians, for months.

Canadians pay the third highest pharmaceutical drug prices in the world, yet the Liberals are using their power to defend the interests of big pharma, an NPD news release read. It furthered:

On Thursday morning, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and NDP health critic, Don Davies, called on the Liberals to stop protecting the profits of big pharma and cut the price of patented medications.

Through ATIP, New Democrats obtained a memo from the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board (PMPRB) acting chair to [Federal Health] Minister Duclos in December 2021. The memo warned the minister that, despite 110 hours of consultation with big pharma, the industry was not engaging constructively and would oppose any reform put forward to lower drug prices for Canadians and reduce big pharma’s profits.”

Singh is said to have condemned the Liberals, saying that it is clear they are “in the pocket of the pharmaceutical industry,” while noting that Canadians see higher drug prices as a result.

Interestingly, the NDP and Liberal federal parties continue an “unofficial coalition,” through the 2022 Supply and Confidence Agreement.

This means that the two minority governments are able push mutually agreed upon policies through Parliament without the support of other opposition parties, since they vote in collaboration as though they are a majority government.

A large component of this agreement was based on the Liberal guarantee that they would pass a bill on universal public drug insurance coverage by the end of 2023. There has been no movement on that promise to date.

NDP Leader Singh repeatedly criticizes Prime Minister Trudeau and his (in)actions while knowing full well that he could end this agreement to ensure adequate opposition.

The allegations against Minister Duclos – that he has delayed pharmaceutical pricing reforms intended to make patented drugs more affordable for Canadians – resulted in several high-profile resignations at the PMPRB a few months ago.

"PMPRB is an independent organization. It is not subjected and will never be subjected to political interference," said Duclos in March 2023.

The long-standing issues with Canadian health regulators and their capture by pharma-funded interests appear to be exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the record inflation plaguing the country.

Remove Ads
Remove Ads

Don't Get Censored

Big Tech is censoring us. Sign up so we can always stay in touch.

Remove Ads