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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 18966

Warning: This library includes all items relevant to health product marketing that we are aware of regardless of quality. Often we do not agree with all or part of the contents.


Publication type: Electronic Source

Silverman E
Oh Canada! Biker Gangs In Charge Of Drug Reviews?
Pharmalot 2010 Nov 24

Full text:

Once again, controversy is erupting over British Columbia’s PharmaCare program. The latest flare up centers on a previously undisclosed plan by the health ministry to give the pharmaceutical industry greater input into the process used to review drugs for the PharmaCare formularly placement.
A Sept. 30 memo from British Columbia’s deputy health minister John Dyble to unnamed “stakeholders” describes four separate “engagement points” in the “enhanced review process” that would determine which drugs would be covered by PharmaCare. The purpose is to create “increased sponsor engagement,” according to the Sept. 30 memo (see here).
The proposed “engagement points” for industry, which are being reviewed today at a closed-door Pharmaceutical Task Force meeting in Vancouver, allow drugmakers to review and comment on reports before and after these are issued by the Drugs Benefit Council and the Health Ministry; applications can also be resubmitted (read the newly proposed guidelines here).
Simultaneously, a 14-year-old independent advisory board, Therapeutics Initiative, is being scrapped, a move that first caused an uproar when proposed two years ago (look here). The one-two punch is causing consternation among consumer advocates, who say the pharmaceutical industry will have undue influence over public health decisions for medicines.
“In effect, the drug industry itself will decide which drugs the public will pay for, regardless of safety, cost-effectiveness or value for money,” Michael McBane, national coordinator of the Canadian Health Coalition, writes us. “With this change in process, British Columbia goes from best practice in Canada to worst practice in Canada. Putting the drug industry in charge of drug reviews is like putting biker gangs in charge of street crime” (and here is his rationale for allowing TI to remain in place).
The task force, by the way, sports five of nine members with industry ties, including the chair, Don Avison, who is the Canadian representative on Pfizer’s Global International Advisory Board, and Russ Williams, who heads Rx&D, the industry trade group in Canada.
In response to queries, a health ministry spokesman wrote The Tyee to say: “The changes are aimed at expanding input into the drug review process…Prior to the recommendations, there was minimum involvement with practicing clinicians and the use of evidence review experts was limited to clinical evidence reviews by the UBC Faculty of Medicine group, the Therapeutics Initiative.”


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