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e-2649 (Health)

Initiated by Mary Colleen Fuller from Vancouver, British Columbia

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the Government of Canada

  • Canadians need access to safe, effective and affordable prescription drugs and vaccines; drugs can’t work if people can’t afford to pay for them;
  • The number of patented medicines that cost Canadians over $10,000 each per year has more than tripled since 2006 and accounted for over 40% of patented medicine sales in 2017, an upward trend that is expected to continue;
  • Compared to 11 other countries, Canadians have the second highest rate of not filling prescriptions or skipping doses due to high costs;
  • The Patented Medicine Prices Review Board (PMPRB) will soon enact new regulations and guidelines to strengthen its ability to control the price of new vaccines and medicines;
  • In response, the pharmaceutical industry, with the support of groups they fund, threatens to deny Canadians access to new lifesaving drugs and greatly reduce the number of clinical trials in Canada;
  • The industry has a long history of using vulnerable patients to force governments to back away from changes that serve a broader public interest;
  • The new regulations will increase transparency about how the industry sets prices, enabling the PMPRB to obtain a true and complete picture of patented medicine prices in Canada; and
  • A stronger price review system will enable a National Pharmacare program supported by 88% of Canadians.
We, the undersigned, citizens of Canada, call upon the Government of Canada to:
1. Enact reforms to the Patented Medicines Regulations adopted in August 2019 as soon as possible;
2. Sever the financial links between the drug industry and patient advocacy groups;
3. Maintain its commitment to strengthen the PMPRB;
4. Move quickly to institute universal Pharmacare.

Response by the Minister of Health

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): Darren Fisher

The Government is committed to strengthening Canada’s health care system and to supporting the health of Canadians. Prescription medicine prices in Canada are among the highest in the developed world. This has an adverse impact on the ability of Canadians to access to needed medications and challenges the sustainability of Canada’s health care system. Current high prices in Canada add a financial burden on public and private insurers, as well as on individual Canadians  who pay out of pocket for medications. No Canadian should have to choose between paying for prescription drugs and putting food on the table, yet many are still forced to make this impossible decision.

That is why the Government of Canada is committed to working with provinces, territories and stakeholders to continue to implement national universal pharmacare so that Canadians have the drug coverage they need. As stated in the Speech from the Throne in September 2020, we will accelerate steps to achieve this system including developing a rare-disease strategy, establishing a national formulary and working with provinces and territories that are willing to move forward without delay. We also look forward to working with stakeholders, including patient groups and the pharmaceutical industry, who make their own decisions on funding for services and programs to support patients.

As a foundational step towards national pharmacare, the Government of Canada recently modernized the way patented drug prices are regulated in Canada by amending the Patented Medicines Regulations to provide the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board (PMPRB) with the tools and information needed to protect Canadians from excessive patented medicine prices. This was the first substantive update to the regulations since 1987 and it is expected that these amendments will save Canadians up to $13.2 billion in drug spending over the next 10 years. The amendments were published in Canada Gazette, Part II on August 21, 2019 and are available at: 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Canada has delayed the coming-into-force of the regulatory amendments by six months to minimize the imposition of new administrative burden on the pharmaceutical industry and provide stakeholders with a longer period in which to submit feedback to the PMPRB’s Guidelines consultation process. The amendments will now come into force on January 1, 2021. More information on the delay is available in the Regulatory Impact Assessment Statement (RIAS), published in the Canada Gazette Part II and accessible at the following link:


Through these actions, we continue to work with provincial and territorial governments and other key partners to improve the affordability and accessibility of prescription drugs.

Open for signature
June 9, 2020, at 8:53 a.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
August 8, 2020, at 8:53 a.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Don Davies (Vancouver Kingsway)
October 1, 2020 (Petition No. 432-00050)
Government response tabled
November 16, 2020
Photo - Don Davies
Vancouver Kingsway
New Democratic Party Caucus
British Columbia