Canada provinces set strict caps on generic drug prices

Fri Jan 18, 2013 5:32pm EST
 
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By Allison Martell

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's provinces and territories have agreed to tighter caps on the prices of six of the most widely prescribed generic drugs, and that's just the beginning of a coordinated effort to hold down costs, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall said on Friday.

Aiming to cut high cost of generics for private and government health programs in Canada, the jurisdictions will allow drugstores to charge no more than 18 percent of the price of the brand-name equivalent.

"This is a start. There's a lot more work that can be done on generics," Wall, the Prairie province's top elected official, said in an interview with Reuters.

The new price restrictions - set by an interprovincial policy group that Wall leads with Prince Edward Island Premier Robert Ghiz - are likely to ratchet up pressure on Shoppers Drug Mart Corp and other big chains.

Canadian pharmacies are already feeling the impact of efforts by individual provinces to cut generic drug prices. Shoppers Drug stock dropped 5 percent on Friday afternoon.

Wall said he and Ghiz would discuss next steps with health ministers this spring.

"We'll say, let's move again on the next tranche of generics, perhaps, but let's engage with industry. Maybe it's not a price point - maybe industry has some ideas," he said. "So I don't think we'll rule anything out."

The agreement is the first coordinated effort in a broad push by individual Canadian provinces to cut the prices they pay for generic drugs. The changes began in Ontario and spread, to varying degrees, across the country.   Continued...