National Mental Health Coalition Joins Patient Groups in Call to Improve Current Process for Drug Pricing Review

(Ottawa, Ontario): A national coalition comprised of mental health leaders and advocates across the country has added its voice to those of other patient groups calling for a re-examination of the Government of Canada’s current review of drug pricing regulations in Canada. Last week, a large coalition of Canadian patient organizations issued a statement criticizing the current proposed drug pricing reforms.

Formed in 2017 to highlight the inequity of access to innovative depression medications, Canadians for Equitable Access to Depression Medication (CEADM), led by senior executive of Mood Disorders Society of Canada and the Canadian Mental Health Association, applauds the 28 patient organizations who have raised their voices and opposition to the way the current proposed drug pricing reforms are being advanced and are calling for a halt to the current drug pricing review.

Health Canada has proposed reforms to Canada’s Patented Medicines Regulations, administered by the Patent Medicines Prices Review Board (PMPRB). The lack of patient feedback to the proposed amendments – among other key issues – is cause for concern that could easily result in hurting patients and further impacting equitable access to medications that work, according to CEADM.

In its own response to the reforms proposed by PMPRB, CEADM points out that consultation with stakeholder groups, including patient advocacy groups, is inadequate. As well, their submission highlights the inequity issue, where innovative depression medications are not covered under public drug plans. This list includes the most innovative medicines to treat major depressive disorder – mental illness impacts one in five Canadians.

The amendments proposed to the Patented Medicines Regulations will further burden the most vulnerable segments of Canada’s population – the marginalized, unemployed, single parents, veterans, seniors, people on low incomes, many Indigenous peoples – those whom are unable to receive innovative medicines to treat their depression. The proposed reforms, states CEADM, will set the bar for the approval of new medicines too high for most mental health treatments.

While changes to PMPRB may be necessary, in its own submission to the federal review, CEADM echoes the voices of other patient groups in calling on the Government of Canada to include patients/consumers in the consultation process — and that the amended regulations ensure that access and affordability are achieved.