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Canada must ensure all orphan drugs are priced fairly to allow patient access

Date:
February 23, 2015
Source:
Canadian Medical Association Journal
Summary:
In developing an orphan drug policy, Canada must ensure that all orphan drugs for rare diseases -- both old and future drugs -- should be priced fairly so that Canadians may access life-saving therapy, argue authors of a new Canadian analysis.
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In developing an orphan drug policy, Canada must ensure that all orphan drugs for rare diseases -- both old and future drugs -- should be priced fairly so that Canadians may access life-saving therapy, argue authors of an analysis published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal)

New orphan drugs often have very high prices, which companies justify based on costly research and development and a small number of patients. But for older orphan drugs, the justification for high prices is not clear. This study examines trientine, a life-saving therapy for Wilson disease. Trientine was developed in the 1960s and has been available for use since then. Last year, the manufacturer unexpectedly increased its price 13-fold, resulting in annual treatment costs of over $150,000. Just as suddenly, the price increase was later rescinded in Canada.

New regulations for orphan drugs are expected soon in Canada, although the focus is on future drugs. The regulations must ensure that older orphan drugs remain accessible.

"An orphan drug framework should clarify that patient access to essential drugs should not be vulnerable to prices that reflect neither costs of production nor rewards for innovation," writes Dr. Eve Roberts, The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and the University of Toronto, Ontario, and coauthors.

"All orphan drugs should be priced fairly," write the authors. "Fair pricing should be defined as what is fair for society and Canadian health care systems, and fair given the contribution of the company to developing and producing the product."


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Materials provided by Canadian Medical Association Journal. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Eve A. Roberts, Matthew Herder, and Aidan Hollis. Fair pricing of "old" orphan drugs: considerations for Canada's orphan drug policy. CMAJ, February 2015 DOI: 10.1503/cmaj.140308

Cite This Page:

Canadian Medical Association Journal. "Canada must ensure all orphan drugs are priced fairly to allow patient access." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 February 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/02/150223142246.htm>.
Canadian Medical Association Journal. (2015, February 23). Canada must ensure all orphan drugs are priced fairly to allow patient access. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 23, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/02/150223142246.htm
Canadian Medical Association Journal. "Canada must ensure all orphan drugs are priced fairly to allow patient access." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/02/150223142246.htm (accessed May 23, 2017).

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