If you haven’t been following the ongoing saga of ‘Canadian’ drug company Valeant Pharmaceuticals, you probably aren’t alone. While news stories over the past year found their bombastic villain in pharma-bro Martin Shkreli (and fairly so), it could be argued that his price gouging model is based of Valeant.
In previous blogs, big pharma’s influence on trade deals like the TPP and the negative consequences for Canadians was uncovered. The topic is inherently broad and often quite technical, so as a result the downstream outcomes people face as a result of pharma policy tend to be obscured. The recent opioid epidemic destroying lives across Canada and the US serves as the clearest example of the influence of big pharma has physician prescribing habits. This epidemic serves as a heartbreaking reminder of what occurs when our government allows big pharma to undemocratically influence our policies.
In the last four articles on the TPP and Big Pharma, the discussion looked at a variety of topics ranging from how trade deals are largely driven by the interests of the pharma lobby, create a policy chill and could preclude universal pharmacare, will only further increase inequitable access to medication, only serve to cement high drug costs in Canada, are in the interests of drug companies’ patents over patients, have nothing to do with more R&D, limit R&D transparency, will perpetuate junk science R&D, and so on and so on....
Despite the increased patent rights over the past decade we are seeing less R&D, higher drug costs, and increased research into specialty drugs(specialty drugs – that cost up to $500,000 per year – now account for 25% of private drug spending in Canada).
In this third article in the Bad Medicine series we will look at how changes to patent regimes resulting from trade deals- like the TPP and CETA- create less transparency into the pharmaceutical industries research and development (R&D) and their nefarious influence on medical practices.
The Council of Canadians supports Réseau FADOQ, along with Quebec and national health care advocates in Montreal today as they demand the federal government fulfill their responsibility and enforce the Canadian Health Act (CHA)
In Part 1 we ended with the question: So what (or who) is driving this Liberal government to follow the Harper governments path in championing trade deals that are not in the interest of the country and why is this government evading its responsibilities to improve health of Canadians?
Today, On April 28, is the Day of Mourning for workers killed or injured on the job. CBC reports for the first time organized labour has chosen to rally around one workplace health issue in particular: asbestos.
It’s estimated that asbestos-related diseases (like mesothelioma and lung cancer) kill more than 2,000 people ever year in Canada. Death from mesothelioma increased 60 percent between 2000 and 2012. Yet, just last year before losing power the Harper government actually made it easier to import products containing asbestos. CUPE National President Mark Hancock has stated,
In a recent House of Commons committee on health, Health Canada finally acknowledged what health economists, academics and activists had been saying for some time: drug costs will rise under pending trade deals like the TPP.
Testifying before the committee was Abby Hoffman, Assistant Deputy Health Minister, who replied to questions stating, “High prescription drug costs will rise under pending free trade agreements... Yes, it’s true that Canadians in general receive less public support for their drug costs than many comparable countries.”