June 25th, 2020

// Canada may be losing its status as a top global destination for new medicine launches

Canada may be losing its status as a top global destination for new medicine launches

TORONTO, June 25, 2020 /CNW/ - Canada has long been considered a top global jurisdiction for new medicine launches. However, a new report published by Life Sciences Ontario (LSO) shows that new medicine launches in Canada fell dramatically in 2019.

LSO commissioned IQVIA Inc., a global leader in health data and analytics, to examine the commercialization of new medicines in Canada and other top global jurisdictions from the past 20 years (2000 to 2019). The report shows that Canada has been a top destination for new medicine launches over the past 20 years and has steadily improved its global standing over time. Up until 2018, Canada was gradually getting faster and more extensive access to therapies relative to other countries.

However, the research shows a sharp decline in the number of new drug launches in Canada in 2019, from 22 in 2018 to just 13 in 2019, despite the overall number of global launches rising during the year. In the last quarter of 2019, there was only one new drug launch in Canada.

This report substantiates concerns raised by Canadian and global life sciences leaders in a survey commissioned by Life Sciences Ontario earlier this year to help measure the impacts of the federal government's new price controls for patented medicines in Canada (http://bit.ly/MedPriceControlsSurvey). The survey revealed unanimity on the expected negative impacts of the changes, including delayed medicine launches in Canada.

"This new research shows that Canadian patients have been benefiting over recent years from new treatments being made available in Canada almost as quickly as anywhere else in the world but that we are throwing away this advantage in a short-sighted attempt to lower drug prices at unreasonably low levels. And we are doing this at a critical time where Canadians need access to new medicines and vaccines, especially to combat COVID-19," states Jason Field, President and CEO of Life Sciences Ontario.

The report shows that among 37 new therapies launched globally in 2018, over half of them (21) were not launched in Canada. The majority of the medicines not commercialized in Canada were for rare diseases and cancer.

For Barry Stein, President and CEO of Colorectal Cancer Canada and President of the Coalition Priorité Cancer au Québec, the report flags a number of concerns. He notes that "Timely access to new and effective drugs that improve patient outcomes, including access to new therapies through clinical trials, may mean the difference between life and death for many patients, but particularly those with cancer." Stein also observes that "New innovations in precision medicines, immunotherapies and other targeted treatments benefit cancer patients and society as a whole. It is therefore crucial that we maintain a fertile research environment encouraged by reimbursement for these new innovations so that all Canadians can benefit from them in a timely manner."

LSO's Jason Field supports the government's decision to delay implementation of the federal regulations as an opportunity to revisit the policy, noting that "we hope the federal government will revise the regulations to ensure Canadians don't suffer further from delayed or lack of access to new treatments and vaccines."

The complete report is available here.

About Life Sciences Ontario
Life Sciences Ontario is a member-driven organization that represents and promotes the province's vibrant and diverse life sciences sector. Ontario is currently home to one of the largest life sciences clusters in North America, contributing $58 billion to Ontario's GDP, and providing almost 200,000 direct and indirect jobs for Ontarians. About 1-in-13 jobs in Ontario are in life sciences or supported by its activity. LSO collaborates with governments, academia, industry, and other life science organizations in Ontario and across Canada to promote and encourage commercial success throughout the sector. Membership in Life Sciences Ontario includes individuals, students, emerging companies, investors, service providers, and companies with marketed products. LSO is dedicated to promoting Ontario's life sciences sector internationally. Visit lifesciencesontario.ca for more information.

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