General News Update

Denis Morrice

Denis Morrice is the Executive Director of the ORA. He is skilled at staying on top of trending news stories that are relevant to the world of rheumatology! 

ORA AGM: Imran Ali (Senior Manager pan Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance – pCPA) will be a plenary speaker at the ORA AGM. Please send me issues and areas of concern that you want him to be sure to address. There will be a good Q&A session.

OHIP+: 118 doctors are registered for the Temporary Facilitated Access (TFA) for rheumatology prescribing. Already, over a million prescriptions have been written. Weekly webinars are held that provide updates and address any hiccups and glitches that have occurred. Consider having lunch with your clinic staff (Thursday’s 12noon to 1pm) and listen in:

Auditor General’s Report: Just one interesting note: The Ministry gave $550 million in 8 years to the MedsCheck program and no idea if it is effective. Imagine if just a few of those millions went to Rheumatology Models of Care, OBRI, ORDER.

Canada’s Drug System: All Departments are concerned about HTA, drug costs and access as witnessed by the various reviews that are underway at Health Canada, CADTH, PMPRB, pCPA. The most significant being PMPRB determined to lower the price of drugs and listing new referenced countries such as Australia, Japan, South Korea and excluding US.

Further Efforts to Reduce Drug Costs: BC is considering the introduction of Biologic/Biosimilar ‘switching’ – that being administrative switching in order to lower public plan costs. The ORA is conscious of drug costs but believe any switching should be a decision of the Doctor/Patient discussion.

Worth noting: Although pCPA policy says Biosimilars first for naive patients in order to lower drug costs and ensure a Biosimilar industry there is talk by others about opening the field to Biologics and Biosimilars.

There is concern that the efforts to lower new innovator drug costs could have unintended consequences – namely the restriction to innovation or Canadians access to innovative medicines.

Drug Costs: Growing drug costs are a world-wide concern. In the US about 300 Hospitals have come together to form a non-profit company to provide a number of generic drugs to hospitals. However, President Trump says he is going to take care of drug prices.

Politics at work: In the US some 340 former congressional staffers now work for pharmaceutical companies and their lobby firms and more than a dozen pharma staffers hold positions on Capitol Hill.

Increasing Calls for a National Pharmacare Program: With changes in co-pays, deductibles, maximal allowable costs, prior authorization and managed care (better known as PA on steroids) along with the stat that 1 in 10 Canadians can’t afford their medication, there is an obvious demand for a NPP.

The latest survey noted 87% of Canadians are moderately or strongly supportive of adding prescription drug coverage to medicare. Plus the 1964 Emmett Hall (Royal Commission), the 1997 National Forum on Health and the 2002 Romanow Commission also advocated for adding prescription drugs to the medicare program.

Isn’t it time to support a National Pharmacare Program???

Clinical Trials in the USA: Right now, the USA has exactly 19,816 clinical trials open and ready to recruit patients—trials of promising new therapeutics to fight everything from HIV to cancer to Alzheimer’s. About 18,000 of them will get stuck on the tarmac because they won’t get enough people enrolled. And a third of those will never get off the ground at all, for the same reason.

Arthritis Alliance of Canada Newsletter: In case you don’t receive this, here is the link: