Report on Access Delays to New Prescription Drugs

Last season on White Coat, Black Art, we explored the process by which new drugs are approved by Health Canada and then put on provincial formularies, at which point they are provided free-of-charge to seniors and patients eligible for welfare entitlement programs.

This week, the Fraser Institute released its third report on the amount of time patients must wait to access new medicines in Canada. According to the report, there's good news on the national front; in 2007, the average length of time taken by Health Canada to approve new drugs was 453 days, down from 487 days in 2006 and 696 days in 2005. And the average lag from Health Canada approval to putting a drug on provincial formulary in 2007 was 314 days, down from 455 days in 2006 and 499 days in 2005

Overall, it means that as of 2007, the total average wait time for the feds to approve drugs and have them paid for by the provinces is 767 days, down from 1391 days back in 2004.

That's the good news. However, comparative figures suggest that Canada still takes longer than the United States and the European Union to approve and pay for new drugs.

And, while average wait times are decreasing, the report found that only 10.1% of all drugs that Health Canada approved went on to be approved for full or partial reimbursement by the provinces.

The report will undoubtedly fuel calls once again for a national pharmacare program. But, with the country's finances in the red owing to a floundering economy plus stimulus spending, the push for pharmacare is unlikely to gain traction any time soon.

To read the report click: Access Delayed, Access Denied

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Previous Comments (1)

I am sorry for cutting sideways across your blog system. I wanted to respond to your ethics discussion on the topic of doctors dating patients if possible. My mind can not contain thoughts for long periods simply because something other business bumps it.

My arguments come out of long discussions with Pam Fitch, Maria Paiva, Trish Dryden and others during the development of the RHPA. As a massage therapist I was one of the only males in the discussion. Our profession has got an illness of spirit in that we overcompensate for the close contact of our work by beating our students senseless until they don't trust their own feelings anymore. It sort of defeats the purpose of massage doesn't it?

The rule "Cause no harm" is good but points to the crux of the problem with doctor patient relationship in general and specifically with love interests. We as people working in the healing arts look at ourselves as "causes". The word "cause" points right at the problem because being the cause of something is a powerful notion that suggests an indispensibility. It feels good to be important, but if the patient is really healed, better or recovered they don't need us any more. I mean really, they don't need us and they know it. The fact that they know it and live as if they know it is essential. Teaching people to walk illustrates this more clearly than counseling or oncological care.

Gratefulness is part of the healing process, the last one of its stages, which lasts long after the other signs are gone. When it is gone and they are totally on with their life, no relapses of internal or external gushing, blushing and mushing the next time they see you casually passing on the street, then they are truly finished healing.

My first rule of dating clients and patients is that when they don't need you in any way and you don't need them ( and this is subtle) then the new relationship can begin. This means that a one time x-ray check in a emergency room would leave almost no traces of healing attachment in many people. Whereas as a counselor or psychiatrist as the architect of rebuilding someones psyche leaves permanent marks in the way that person thinks the same as a parent or sibling does.

I agree with what your guest said about the reduction of the "awe factor" making dating more likely to be safe. I don't think that thinking of doctors in iconic, religious and father/mother terms will go away for everybody. In a way that is the doctors fault. If the structure of the medical system were reworked so that this power attraction thing doesn't come up it would be very helpful for this ethical problem. This is a long discussion. Simply put though the current medical model is a feudal system. Sorry. The king has got to go. And to do that the other fiefs must not become petty Kings instead. Political underpinnings of public perception of infallibility.

Where I have seen this work well was in small towns. Doctors must marry a patient eventually or go elsewhere. A good town tones down a doctor's aura of power, while keeping the respect they leave them human.

Also I have seen the opposite in small towns.

My question to my students was what would happen to a doctor on a space ship on a journey of many years through the stars? They would have to work it out. In NASA they know this and they have been planning for it. We should work it out here on Earth now as well, instead of depending on rules. Maybe NASA could share their research on it so far. As your guest said it depends. The skill of getting through “the depends” is a public property of knowledge worth developing with the public, not in silos.

~ robyn harvey rmt

Robyn Harvey, August 19, 2009 2:37 PM
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