The B.C. Government is pleased with the federal government’s decision to modernize drug pricing regulations.

The province says people are now better protected against excessive prices set by manufacturers. The changes affect the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board.

That’s the consumer protection agency that was first set up in 1987. The independent, quasi-judicial body monitors and regulates drug pricing. The changes are the first time the regulations have been updated since the board was created.

The amendments include expanding the PMPRB’s list of countries it uses to compare drug prices, using market prices, rather than the list cost set by the manufacturer and allowing the board to consider a drug’s value for patients and health budgets. Canadians are expected to save roughly $13.2 billion over 10 years as a result of these changes.

“These are important changes that impact everyone. We know Canadians spend more on prescription drugs, and that drugs themselves are more expensive here than in other countries,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “In B.C., we have taken action to lower drug costs by making record investments in Fair PharmaCare, helping to negotiate a new national generics agreement and expanding the use of biosimilar drugs. I am pleased that the federal government is now doing what they can to protect Canadians against excessive drug costs.

“I have advocated for these changes, which are in the best interest of Canadians as they will help each jurisdiction provide a more sustainable drug plan by allowing their limited health-care dollars to be used more efficiently. I look forward to continuing working with the federal government to better manage excessive Canadian drug prices within the international landscape.”

The PMPRB’s role is to investigate whether drug prices are found to be excessive. The board holds public hearings and has the power to issue remedial orders against pharmaceutical companies following a hearing, including paying back any excessive revenues should a company not voluntarily reduce its price.