Impact of Canada's Common Drug Review on drug listing

October 24, 2011, Canadian Medical Association Journal

The number of drugs covered by public drug plans decreased substantially after Canada's Common Drug Review was introduced in 2003, and new drugs were listed more quickly in several of the smaller provinces, found a study published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

Canada has 19 public plans, which accounted for about 39% of the forecasted $31 billion in drug-related costs in 2010. These plans cover the cost of a range of drugs prescribed to patients. Before 2003, each plan independently reviewed evidence for clinical and cost-effectiveness for new drugs under consideration for listing under drug plans. The Common Drug Review, administered by the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health, was introduced to standardize the process, improve efficiencies by pooling resources and expertise and eliminate duplication. Quebec does not participate in the Common Drug Review.

Researchers from the University of Alberta found that the number of drugs listed for coverage decreased substantially. Participating drug plans listed between 47% and 66% of new drugs in the five years before the Common Drug Review and between 12% and 40% in the five years following. As well, the time from recommendation to be listed and actual date listed ranged from 99 to 358 days, compared with an average time-to-listing of 778 days — more than two years — before the Common Drug Review.

There was also significant variation between listing decisions of public drug plans and recommendations of the Common Drug Review.

"The proportion of drugs listed decreased significantly after the introduction of the Common Drug Review for all participating drug plans included in our analysis," states Dr. Dean Eurich, School of Public Health, University of Alberta, with coauthors. "Time-to-listing decreased for a number of the smaller provinces."

The authors write that several factors, including uncertainty over the clinical effectiveness of drugs submitted by pharmaceutical companies for review, may explain the decrease in the number of drugs listed for reimbursement.

"Our findings suggest that the Common Drug Review may have contributed to a streamlining of the process for reviewing drugs for certain jurisdictions," write the authors "Specifically, patients in the provinces of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador may have benefited with earlier access to . Any substantial gains in savings or in the efficiency of publicly funded drug plans to make listing decisions are important factors in maintaining the and safety of Canadian patients."

Explore further: US lawmakers reject Canada drug purchases

Related Stories

US lawmakers reject Canada drug purchases

October 20, 2011
The US Senate Thursday rejected a measure that would have enabled Americans to buy prescription drugs in Canada in a bid to reduce the costs of their health care.

Canadians should demand commitments for pharmacare program, says CMAJ

April 26, 2011
Canada needs a national pharmacare program and federal leaders must commit adequate funding, states an editorial in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

Little progress on reducing pharmacare coverage disparities over past decade: research

October 6, 2011
Changes to provincial drug plans over the past decade did little to address the wide disparities among provinces in prescription drug coverage, according to an analysis by University of British Columbia researchers.

CMAJ calls on federal government to protect Canadians from unsafe drugs

April 18, 2011
Canada needs to modernize its pharmaceutical drug laws to ensure that new drugs as well as older drugs are safe for Canadians, states an editorial in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

Recommended for you

Opioid addiction treatment behind bars reduced post-incarceration overdose deaths in RI

February 14, 2018
A treatment program for opioid addiction launched by the Rhode Island Department of Corrections was associated with a significant drop in post-incarceration drug overdose deaths and contributed to an overall drop in overdose ...

Heroin vaccine blocks lethal overdose

February 14, 2018
Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have achieved a major milestone toward designing a safe and effective vaccine to both treat heroin addiction and block lethal overdose of the drug. Their research, published ...

Study shows NIH spent >$100 billion on basic science for new medicines

February 12, 2018
Federally funded research contributed to the science underlying all new medicines approved by the FDA over the past six years, according to a new study by Bentley University.

Opioid use increases risk of serious infections

February 12, 2018
Opioid users have a significantly increased risk of infections severe enough to require treatment at the hospital, such as pneumonia and meningitis, as compared to people who don't use opioids.

Placebo pills prescribed honestly help cancer survivors manage symptoms

February 9, 2018
Long after cancer treatment ends, many continue to deal with one particular symptom that refuses to go away: fatigue. In a new study, researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Harvard Medical School have ...

Multinational companies continue to produce unregulated antibiotics in India

February 5, 2018
Millions of unapproved antibiotics are being sold in India, according to a new study by researchers at Queen Mary University of London and Newcastle University.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.