May 11, 2021
The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, P.C., M.P.
Prime Minister of Canada
80 Wellington St.
Ottawa, ON, K1A 0A2
Subject: Delay and reconsider the PMPRB regulations
Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,
I am writing on behalf of LSTN (the Life-Saving Therapies Network). We are a national group dedicated to getting faster access to better therapies for people with lethal diseases. Our membership includes oncologists, researchers, patients, pharmaceutical industry representatives, medical ethicists, health economists, and other healthcare technology professionals.
We urgently request that the federal government’s PMPRB regulation changes be delayed. They are currently slated to come into effect on July 1, 2021.
To be clear, we respect the PMPRB’s efforts to make medications more affordable for Canadians. However, price is only one part of the equation. There is no benefit to lowering a drug’s price if Canadian patients cannot have access to it.
LSTN is deeply concerned that the impending PMPRB changes have already reduced access to effective, leading-edge medications for Canadians with cancer, by far the most prevalent lethal disease, at a time when these treatments are critical. For example, announced clinical trials have been cancelled, and fewer new ones have been scheduled. We believe that this situation will get worse if the PMPRB regulations go into effect.
They will effectively eviscerate Canada’s clinical trial infrastructure, its value as an economic research generator – and most important – the near- and long-term value to patients. If PMPRB regulations prevent medications from being brought to the Canadian market, then there is no ethical or business rationale for conducting clinical trials in Canada for innovative, life-saving therapies. Importantly, it is morally wrong – bordering on cruel – to test a pharmaceutical product in a patient population if the product is not going to be generally available to that population.
Over the past year, cancer has killed thousands more Canadians than COVID. Unlike COVID cases and mortality rates, cancer cases and deaths were not reported in live-broadcast daily press briefings or tallied up on TV graphics and websites. They just happen in the background of our busy lives – as they have for decades! Tragically, the pandemic has led to treatment delays for many Canadians with cancer, so we expect even more deaths – and an even greater rate of death – in the coming years.
Please allow me to close by summarizing our request in simple terms.
The government needs to delay the PMPRB regulations. More input is needed that targets ways to avoid and mitigate consequences like those I have mentioned in this letter.
We have laws that allow people with lethal diseases to die with dignity. Surely, they should also have the right to access medicines that could help extend their lives with good quality… or turn their lethal diseases into chronic, manageable conditions, or better.
Clearly, now is not the time to experiment with complex and untried regulations that prevent or delay Canadians from accessing new oncology medicines or participating in life-saving clinical trials.
Thank you for reading this. As this is an urgent matter, we look forward to your quick reply.
John-Peter Bradford, Ph.D., FCMC
LSTN (Life-Saving Therapies Network)