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Articles on Big Pharma

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Canadians pay high drug prices, but the pharmaceutical industry claims it is a ‘key partner in economic resilience, recovery and growth.’ (Shutterstock)

High drug prices in Canada are just one side of a bad equation

Canadians pay very high drug costs, but Canada also does not receive the same economic benefits from pharmaceutical industry investments as other countries do.
Health Canada’s new drug licensing proposal contains no mechanism for making fast-tracked medicines affordable. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

Canada’s misguided changes to drug regulation could fast-track unproven medications and divert funds from other health needs

The federal government’s proposed Agile Licensing drug approval regulations mean Canada will have less information about the risks of new medicines, and higher costs.
When regulatory agencies like Health Canada approve a new drug, they require the drug company to continue monitoring the product’s safety. (Shutterstock)

Health Canada should be transparent about how it’s monitoring drug safety

Health Canada continues to monitor newly approved drugs to determine if the benefits identified in the pre-market trials hold up to further scrutiny. Canadians need better access to that information.
The pharma industry warned that if proposed new prescription price guidelines go ahead, drug launches would be delayed and ‘Canadian patients will be deprived of potentially life-saving new medicines.’ (Shutterstock)

How the pharmaceutical industry uses disinformation to undermine drug price reform

The pharma industry claims lower prescription drug prices will mean less access to new medication for Canadians. It’s an old threat that pits profits against patients’ rights to affordable drugs.
Drug patents don’t necessarily spur companies to innovate so much as restrict access to their IP. Andrii Zastrozhnov/iStock via Getty Images Plus

Pharma’s expensive gaming of the drug patent system is successfully countered by the Medicines Patent Pool, which increases global access and rewards innovation

The Medicines Patent Pool was created to promote public health, facilitating generic licensing for patented drugs that treat diseases predominantly affecting low- and middle-income countries.
COVID-19 patients receive oxygen as they lie in their beds in the intensive care unit of a hospital in Machakos, Kenya, in August 2021. (AP Photo/Brian Inganga)

Enduring colonialism has made it harder to end the COVID-19 pandemic

A major lesson from the COVID-19 pandemic is the need to decolonize transnational governance so that the world is better able to handle both future and current global crises.
OxyContin, an opioid drug heavily marketed by Purdue Pharma, is associated with billions of dollars of health-care costs in Canada related to the opioid crisis. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot)

$150M is not enough: Canada’s proposed Purdue Pharma settlement for opioid damages is paltry and won’t prevent future crises

The Purdue Pharma settlement is paltry compared to costs of the opioid crisis. Without major changes to pharma industry regulation, there is little reason to think a similar crisis won’t occur again.
Global Justice campaigners in London stand by fake coffins to highlight global COVID-19 deaths. If pharma companies waived intellectual property rights, it would be easier for low- and middle-income countries to access COVID-19 vaccines. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

We still need a vaccine patent waiver, but not the one on offer at the World Trade Organization meeting

Waiving patent rights on COVID-19 vaccines and drugs is still crucial to ensure access globally, but the waiver on the table at the June World Trade Organization meeting doesn’t do the job.
From thalidomide to Viagra, drug repurposing salvaged failed treatments by giving them new targets. smartboy10/DigitalVision Vectors via Getty Images

Repurposing generic drugs can reduce time and cost to develop new treatments – but low profitability remains a barrier

Drug repurposing can redeem failed treatments and squeeze out new uses from others. But many pharmaceutical companies are hesitant to retool existing drugs without a high return on investment.
Changes to the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board regulations, which are intended to help lower drug costs in Canada, were originally scheduled to take effect in July 2020. (Shutterstock)

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

Changes to Canada’s Patented Medicine Prices Review Board regulations have been postponed for a fourth time in two years as Canadians continue to pay some of the highest drug prices in the world.
Generic drug names are assigned at the global level by the World Health Organization in conjunction with national naming authorities. (Shutterstock)

Generic drug names provide information for doctors, so why is Health Canada promoting the use of pharma brand names?

Generic drug names are often long, but they can tell doctors what type of medicine it is and how it works. But it’s brand names that appear first and most prominently in Health Canada materials.

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