Equal and timely access to medications as clinically appropriate is important for all Canadians, especially for those with chronic diseases such as diabetes and related complications.
A 2007 study of the Common Drug Review (CDR) by the House of Commons concluded that while it had provided a good start towards harmonizing the drug review process in Canada, further improvements were necessary. Millions of Canadians are affected by CDR recommendations for drug formulary listings.
In June of this year, the Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA) engaged key stakeholders through a Summit on a Renewed Vision for the Common Drug Review, the CDA’s April 2012 report. Participants from patient groups, government, arm’s-length government agencies, academia and others discussed this important issue and identified three key priorities:
Ensure clarity regarding all aspects of the drug review process. A shared understanding by all stakeholders of the review process is needed, including review criteria and their application, noting that not all stakeholders have a common understanding or clarity of the review process or some key concepts.
Improve how patient experience, societal costs and benefits are included in the assessment of cost-effectiveness. It is unclear what criteria are used to evaluate cost effectiveness or how these factors are assessed. A better understanding is needed of these criteria applied by the CDR and governments in assessing cost-effectiveness.
Strengthen transparency, accountability and public disclosure. Health Canada, CDR, participating drug plans and manufacturers must be held accountable to disclose assessment criteria, evidence, and rationale for decisions with sufficient detail to allow stakeholders to understand the inputs that led to final drug funding decisions.
In November 2012, the CDA released Common Ground: Exploring Opportunities to Enhance the Drug Review Process in Canada. For Canadians to have equitable access to a full range of medications essential to achieve optimal health, the drug review process must balance clinical effectiveness and patient experience with societal priorities and resources. Moving forward, the CDA will continue to work with all key stakeholders to promote access to essential medications through a more transparent and responsive drug review process and through pharmacare coverage that will meet the needs of all Canadians.
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