Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by informing you that I will be splitting my time this afternoon with the member for Thérèse-De Blainville.
It is a great pleasure to rise today to discuss the motion tabled by the member for Vancouver Kingsway related to pharmacare. Specifically, I would like to speak about the research that is being supported by the federal government through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, or CIHR, related to pharmaceuticals.
Our government recognizes that the price of drugs affects the life of all Canadians, and ensuring equitable access to necessary medicines is a priority for our government. More precisely, working with the provinces and territories to improve access to necessary prescription medications is one of our top priorities. This will include joining with the provincial and territorial governments to negotiate common drug prices, reducing the costs that Canadian governments pay for these drugs, making them more affordable for Canadians, and exploring the need for a national formulary. That is why, through CIHR, our government is investing approximately $1 billion in research initiatives that will generate new knowledge and evidence and lead to better and more affordable treatments for Canadians.
I would like to discuss some important initiatives supported by these investments that will lead to more affordable treatments and better health outcomes for Canadians.
Clinical trials are the cornerstone of evidence-based practice and ensure timely access to new drugs and treatment for Canadians. For this reason, CIHR recently announced it will be investing $11.7 million annually in an initiative that will focus on the development and implementation of innovative methods in clinical research, the innovative clinical trials initiative. This specific initiative is part of the larger strategy for patient-oriented research by a national coalition of federal, provincial, and territorial partners dedicated to the integration of research into care. The innovative clinical trials initiative will contribute to increasing Canadian competitiveness in innovative clinical trial research and provide a stimulus for research to adopt new methodologies to conduct clinical trials. It will also encourage collaboration with various stakeholders, including patients, decision-makers, and key stakeholders.
Innovative clinical trials use alternative designs to traditional trials methodologies. These new methods can reduce the cost of conducting trials, thereby reducing the amount of time needed to answer research questions, and they increase the relevance of research findings for patients, health care providers, and policy-makers. The direct outcome of these new methods is improved effectiveness of the trials while keeping the same high safety and effectiveness standards for the drugs. This will lower the cost of drug development, ensuring that new, affordable, and effective drugs are available for Canadians.
A priority for the federal government is to improve access to necessary prescription medications. It is important to note that as more people gain access to prescription medication, evidence-based information is required on the safety and effectiveness of the pharmaceuticals. That is why the federal government, through CIHR and Health Canada, created the Drug Safety and Effectiveness Network, to give Canadian decision-makers the evidence they need on post-market drug safety and effectiveness. Launched in 2009, the Drug Safety and Effectiveness Network receives $10 million per year in ongoing funding from the Government of Canada to support its activities, and represents a national network of over 150 researchers. CIHR's investment in the network is making a real-world difference. Since its inception, the Drug Safety and Effectiveness Network has funded over 125 research and capacity-building projects to help those setting policy and delivering health care make informed decisions.
To facilitate this knowledge-translation process, the network developed a collaborative agreement with the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health, also known as CADTH, an independent organization to disseminate its study results to provincial and territorial authorities. This collaboration creates the capacity to respond in a timely manner to the drug safety and effectiveness queries of decision-makers, and ensures that the most effective drugs are accessible to Canadians.
The federal government recognizes the importance of evidence-based policies, which is why, through CIHR, it has supported the research of Dr. Steve Morgan at the University of British Columbia. Dr. Morgan is an expert in pharmaceutical policy and his research focuses on examining the balance between providing equitable access to medicines and responsible health care spending. From 2009 to 2014, the federal government invested almost one and a half million dollars to support Dr. Morgan and other policy researchers who formed a pharmaceutical policy research collaboration. In 2015 this research collaboration released a report to help foster evidence-informed conversations on the future of prescription drug coverage in Canada.
To conclude, I would like to reiterate that ensuring equitable access to necessary medicines is a priority of our government. We are confident that investments in health research, and in particular the highlighted initiatives I have spoken of, will lead to better and more affordable drugs for all Canadians.
Outcomes from these initiatives will contribute to our government's commitment to grow our economy and to strengthen the middle class and those working hard to join it. Our government will continue to work with the provinces and territories to advance pan-Canadian collaboration on health innovation.
I would also like to take this opportunity to wish members of the House a happy Thanksgiving.