Mr. Speaker, in regard to a) As stated in the government response to the committee's report, response tabled in the House of Commons on April 8, 2008, “the Government of Canada supports the idea of exploring options to increase the adaptability of the [Common Drug Review (CDR)] for all types of drugs, including drugs used to treat special populations such as those suffering from rare diseases. [...] The Government of Canada is interested in pursuing discussions with CADTH (Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health), participating provincial and territorial governments, and other stakeholders, on suitable approaches to assessing drugs to treat rare diseases.”
The federal government continues to discuss issues related to the CDR with provincial and territorial partners via participation on the CADTH Board of Directors, composed of representatives from participating provinces and territories as well as the federal government, and the CADTH’s Advisory Committee on Pharmaceuticals, composed of representatives from federal, provincial and territorial publicly funded drug plans, and health-related organizations. Through these activities, the federal government works to ensure the CDR continues to make a valuable contribution to the healthcare system, and that its process works well for all drugs, including those for rare diseases.
In regard to b) Under the National Pharmaceuticals Strategy, NPS, the federal government pursued work with provincial and territorial partners to develop a Canadian approach to expensive drugs for rare diseases. However, since the 2006 NPS progress report, collaborative work on a federal, provincial, and territorial approach has stalled, as the provinces and territories chose pursuit of new federal funding over meaningful collaboration on national approaches. In addition, some provinces, Alberta and Ontario, have moved forward with their own programs specifically designed for drugs for rare diseases.
The federal government remains interested in collaborative approaches to improve pharmaceuticals management. However, such work must respect jurisdictional roles and responsibilities. Prescription drugs provided outside of hospital are outside of the scope of the Canada Health Act and hence, provincial and territorial governments determine whether, and under what terms and conditions, to publicly finance prescription drugs, including drugs for rare diseases.
In regard to c) Initial analysis on Motion No. 426 was undertaken after it was adopted in May 2008 and before Parliament was dissolved. The government continues to consider the issue of drugs for rare diseases and the need, if any, for action in areas of federal responsibility. Further work in this area will require the active engagement of provinces and territories, who, as noted above, have primary responsibility for drug coverage.