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Could Canada Be Losing Its Status as a Leader in New Medicine Launches?

DNA strands on a white background
DNA strands on a white background

Canada has long been considered a top global jurisdiction for new medicine launches. However, recent federal drug price controls have cast doubts on whether Canada can maintain this status. 

To help inform and contribute to this discussion, Life Sciences Ontario commissioned IQVIA — a global leader in health data and analytics — to examine the commercialization of new medicines in Canada and other top global jurisdictions from the past 20 years (2000 to 2019). 

The report highlights a number of important considerations, including:

  • Until recent years, Canada was gradually getting faster and more extensive access to new therapies relative to other countries
  • In 2019, the year the drug price controls were adopted, there was a dramatic 40% drop in the number of new drugs launched in Canada — this is despite the overall number of global launches rising during the year.
  • Canada received less than half of the total number of new therapies launched globally in 2018 (16 of 37). The majority of the medicines not commercialized in Canada were for rare diseases and cancer.

This report substantiates concerns raised by Canadian and global life sciences leaders in a survey commissioned by Life Sciences Ontario earlier this year to help measure the impacts of the federal government’s new price controls for patented medicines in Canada. The survey revealed unanimity on the expected negative impacts of the changes.

Life Sciences Ontario infographic
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