After an internal PMPRB document was made public through an access to information request from Conservative MP Tom Kmiec, many patients and patient organizations have questioned the objectivity, integrity and how truly genuine the PMPRB is with patient consultations that have been occurring over the new reforms which are expected to be implemented July 1, 2021.
According to an internal document made public by an access to information request from Conservative MP Tom Kmiec, the PMPRB (Patented Medicine Prices Review Board) has proposed to spend $56,000 of taxpayer dollars on a number of communications tactics and tools, including social media, to battle those “opponents of the reforms [who] have been more vocal about the potential negative impacts of their implementation and are spreading disinformation through organized public relations campaigns.” The internal Communications Plan document, now made public without any redaction, has been the conversation among those who are advocates for improved access to medicines.
As patients and patient organizations, we are looking for fair and equitable access to medicines which people need to improve health outcomes, prolong life, and improve quality of life. The PMPRB being a quasi-judicial body carries out its mandate independently of other organizations such as Health Canada and has a mandate catering to the interests of Canadian consumers by ensuring that the prices of patented medicines sold in Canada are not excessive. There is grave concern that this body that is meant to protect patients is now targeting patients and patient groups in this way.
We are not opposed to lower prices for medicines and the processes that are needed and are undertaken to ensure Canadians can have fair and equitable access to treatments, but regulatory bodies should not be spending their efforts to challenge patients and patent groups through one-way communications strategies using precious tax-payer dollars. Meaningful consultation and engagement with the very stakeholders it represents would be an obvious approach PMPRB should take.
Several patient organizations have taken offence to the approach and activities PMPRB has carried out which do not appear to be patient and consumer focused. Many have published articles and written letters to PMPRB and political officials. You can gain further insight into the issues by viewing some examples of related information below:
A public response from PMPRB with respect to the concerns raised have not been made publicly available. Many organizations have sent letters to various government representatives and leaders including Best Medicines Coalition (BMC) which was called out in the internal document. MedAccessBC is a member of BMC.
Posted by Alan Low, Executive Director, MedAccessBC