TORONTO, Feb. 21, 2017 /CNW/ – On behalf of participating federal, provincial and territorial public drug plans, the pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance (pCPA) has concluded successful negotiations with three drug manufacturers to help jurisdictions expand access to publicly funded medications for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C.
Hepatitis C is a communicable liver disease that is caused by an infection with the hepatitis C virus. Seventy-five per cent of people who have contracted hepatitis C cannot spontaneously clear the virus. This leads to chronic hepatitis C infection. Although many of the estimated 250,000 infected Canadians may have no symptoms for decades, if left untreated, chronic hepatitis C can lead to serious complications such as liver failure and liver cancer.
Just a few years ago, hepatitis C patients took a combination of pills and injections for almost a year and these earlier drugs had lower rates of treatment success. Today’s newer therapies are more effective, available in oral form and require substantially shorter durations of treatment.
These benefits, however, come at a substantial cost. Depending on the drug and disease progression, the list cost for hepatitis C treatments ranged from $45,000 to over $100,000 per patient. Although these costs were made more affordable with previous agreements, the funding of hepatitis C treatments has resulted in significant cost pressures.
Recently, multiple products have become available, creating a more competitive environment for hepatitis C treatment price negotiations.
The pCPA’s approach to hepatitis C treatment negotiations was guided by the following:
- goal of providing treatment for patients regardless of genotype and disease severity
- financial affordability and sustainability
- a fair approach in negotiating value among multiple drugs and manufacturers.
Gilead Sciences Canada, Merck Canada, and Bristol-Myers Squibb Canada were able to reach an agreement through the pCPA to provide hepatitis C drugs at an improved cost. These agreements will help increase publicly funded access for most patients with hepatitis C.
As with all pCPA drug negotiations, individual participating jurisdictions will be responsible for implementing changes under their respective public drug plans.
For further information: For more information (media): David Jensen, Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, 416-314-6197