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CGPA and Biosimilars Canada Statement on Proposed Pharmacare Legislation

Toronto, February 29, 2024 – The following is a statement from Jim Keon, President of the Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association (CGPA) and Biosimilars Canada, in response to the federal government’s introduction of proposed pharmacare legislation:

“Generic and biosimilar versions of diabetes prescription medicines and generic versions of contraceptive prescription medicines that are highlighted in today’s announcement are already being used extensively by Canadian patients.

The generic and biosimilar medicines industries will need to learn more about the Government of Canada’s approach to implementation, and consult with key stakeholders, to help ensure that a transition to this program would maximize the use of cost-saving generic and biosimilar medicines, while protecting Canada’s drug supply and domestic manufacturing capacity.

Making prescription drugs more affordable and accessible is the key value proposition of Canada’s generic pharmaceutical and biosimilar medicines industries.

Generic prescription medicines are dispensed to fill 76.6 percent of all prescriptions but account for only 22.3 percent of the $42.6-billion Canadians spend annually on prescription medicines.

A recently released international pricing analysis using the NAVLIN Global Database by EVERSANA found that public prices for generic prescription medicines that are benefits on provincial drug plans in Canada are 45 percent lower than in comparator countries.

As these data clearly illustrate, the use of generic prescription medicines is key to the affordability of prescription drug coverage for Canadians.

In Canada, prices of generic pharmaceutical products are controlled through the pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance (pCPA) Tiered Pricing Framework and provincial / territorial legislation, regulation and policy.

Since 2014, the pCPA Generics Initiative has provided billions of dollars in savings to participating jurisdictions, employers that sponsor drug plans for their employees, and Canadian patients.

A renewed three-year pCPA national pricing and market access initiative came into force on October 1, 2023. It is the expectation of CGPA and its member companies that this agreement with Canada’s provinces, territories and the federal government will be honoured.

According to pCPA, previous joint efforts between pCPA and CGPA have resulted in savings of more than $4-billion to participating drug plans over the past ten years, which will only continue to grow over the course of this new pan-Canadian agreement. 

The prices negotiated for these medicines are transparent and available to all Canadians, whether they are covered by a public, employer or union drug plan, or pay for their prescriptions out-of-pocket.

Through pCPA, Canadian governments have already used their combined purchasing power to significantly drive down prices of generic medicines. A new pharmacare program will not, therefore, result in lower prices for generic medicines in Canada. It could, however, result in savings if it increases the use of generic and biosimilar medicines.

Biosimilars medicines play a key role in controlling the increasing financial burden that high-cost biologic drugs are putting on drug plans. It can cost between $10,000 and $25,000 to treat a single patient for one year with an originator biologic drug. In contrast, between two and four patients can be treated with biosimilar versions of these medicines for the same cost as the originator.

Over the past five years, 11 provinces and territories have implemented policies to transition patients from originator biologic drugs to biosimilar versions to ensure a responsible use of taxpayer dollars and enabled hundreds of millions of dollars to be reinvested into their healthcare systems. Biosimilar medicines are now used to fill more than 2.4-million prescriptions each year in Canada, which represents 10.3 percent of all biologic drug prescriptions.

While CGPA and Biosimilars Canada support efforts to improve drug coverage for Canadians, we caution about the pursuit of pricing schemes that could threaten the current and future supply of cost-saving generic pharmaceutical products in Canada.

There are increasing concerns worldwide, including in Canada, about the state of the prescription medication supply. Further price cuts would threaten Canada’s ability to manufacture prescription medicines on domestic soil.

A February 2022 study by consulting firm EY Canada commissioned by CGPA shows that the number of generic medicines domestically produced has declined by 35 percent since 2019. In addition, almost all active pharmaceutical ingredients are imported into Canada, with 60 percent from China and India.

Care must be taken to ensure that the most meaningful potential benefits of enhanced drug coverage for Canadians are not overshadowed by pricing schemes that reduce the current and future availability of cost-saving generic and biosimilar medicines. Any changes must be about improving patient access, care and outcomes, and ensuring a stable and reliable supply.”

About the Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association

The Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association (CGPA) represents Canada’s generic pharmaceutical industry. The industry plays an important role in controlling health-care costs in Canada. Generic drugs are dispensed to fill more than 76.6 percent of all prescriptions but account for account for only 22.3 percent of the $42.6-billion Canadians spend annually on prescription medicines.

About Biosimilars Canada
Biosimilars Canada is a national association representing the biosimilar medicines industry in Canada. Our member companies are at the forefront of the global development and marketing of biosimilar medicines. Biosimilars Canada provides leadership in educating Canadian stakeholders about the safety and efficacy of biosimilar medicines, and advocates for policies that support their timely approval, reimbursement, market acceptance and expanded use. Biosimilars Canada is a division of the Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association. Visit us at www.biosimilarscanada.ca.

Media Contact:

Jeff Connell
Vice President, Corporate Affairs
Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association (CGPA)
Tel: (647) 274-3379
Email: jeff@canadiangenerics.ca
Website: www.canadiangenerics.ca