As long as you stop the clock for these six minutes, I'm going to be fine.
Regulating drug prices is the responsibility of the provinces, which are in charge of health care and, in Quebec, a public drug insurance program. In our opinion, there are already ways to monitor prices. These include the pan‑Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance (pCPA) and the negotiation of listing agreements.
Innovation takes time, resources and, most importantly, good nerves. It is a combination of financial risk, business strategy and scientific knowledge. It takes place in a stable, predictable context that considers the local market and the global environment.
I would like to emphasize that the financial risks that our entrepreneurs take, particularly in the biotech sector, are much higher than in any other sector. A biotech company invests for years—on average 15, 16 or 17 years—before it knows whether the molecule it is working on will become a drug that will be approved and put on the market.
The rise of precision medicine and targeted therapies means that it costs every bit as much to develop a drug. It benefits smaller populations, which increases the risk. The PMPRB's new regulations would upset this delicate and complex balance. In our view, the new regime could well thwart major investment projects. Putting innovative drugs on the market could be jeopardized, and there could be repercussions for patients. The new regulations also mean that a company can no longer know in advance how it will recoup its investments.
Under these circumstances, who would risk a major health care innovation project in Canada?
The proposed reform is, in our view, misguided, ill‑founded and ill‑advised. We are trying to emerge from a health crisis that highlights the importance of the government supporting the life sciences sector, not stifling it as the reform does.
In our view, there is no worse time to destabilize the ecosystem. This ineffective regulation must be withdrawn, or at least suspended, and the discussion should be revisited with a clear head.
We need to think about the PMPRB's contribution. We agree with it, but it needs to be done as part of a reflection on the life sciences ecosystem, not only on the reform of drug pricing. We need a comprehensive life sciences strategy that will include aspects tied to the health of Canadians, to access to innovation, to research and to the economic development of the entire country.
Quebec has a strategy like that, but Canada does not. We must stop thinking in a vacuum, which is what the reform currently does. The pandemic has taught us one important thing, namely that the life sciences sector, the sector that is now giving us hope for a more normal life with the vaccine it has developed, is a productive sector. The government must work with the sector, not against it.
With me today is Paul Lévesque, president of Theratechnologies, a Quebec-based biotech company that has developed and marketed two drugs for HIV patients. It is currently developing other drugs for use against cancer and liver disease.
Mr. Lévesque joined Theratechnologies with 35 years of experience in the biopharmaceutical industry. He has spent half of his professional career outside of Canada, in Europe, Asia and the United States. As global president, he led the rare disease unit in New York.
We will be happy to answer your questions today, but first I would like Mr. Lévesque to explain why it is important for him, as the head of a proud Quebec company, to be here today.
Mr. Lévesque, the floor is yours.