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Canada 23rd out of 32 countries in access to drugs

Staff writer |
Compared to 32 other developed countries, Canada's public drug plans perform poorly in providing access to new medicines and vaccines, according to the report by Rx&D.

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The 2011-2012 International Report on Access to Medicines released by Canada's Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies (Rx&D) finds that public drug plans across Canada fall below the international survey average in every disease area, with the exception of arthritis and urology. That means that Canadians may find they have less choice of innovative treatment options if and when they need them.

While the report notes that Canada provides comparable access to medicines for HIV/AIDS and addiction, it falls far below in many other categories most notably in pain management, mental health, blood disorders and neurological conditions. Overall, Canada ranks 23rd out of 32 countries.

"Canadians should have access to the medicines and vaccines that will transform their lives. We know that new medicines and vaccines improve health outcomes and help Canadians live longer, more productive lives. We also know that healthcare dollars invested in innovative medicines deliver return not only to the individual patient and their family, but also within the health system and for society overall," said Russell Williams, President, Rx&D.

The report compares how drug plans in Canada and 32 OECD countries are publicly reimbursed. It reviews a total of 204 drugs for 257 indications.

According to a 2012 study by the Canadian Health Policy Institute (CHPI), patented prescription medicines (excluding drugs used in hospitals) were estimated to account for only 4.7% of provincial/territorial government health spending for 2011-2012 - continuing a trend of decline that began in 2004.

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