Madam Speaker, I am thankful for the opportunity to speak on this very important issue. For Canadians, our health care system is a source of great pride.
As the opposition has moved that the House call on the government to enter into negotiations with the provinces to implement a universal pharmacare program, I would like to talk about a very important part of the health care system and the connection it has with improving the accessibility, affordability, and suitable use of therapeutic products in Canada.
Our government is committed to advancing this important work in collaboration with pan-Canadian health organizations and our provincial and territorial partners.
Since 1989, one of those pan-Canadian health organizations, the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health, or CADTH, has been a vital part of our health care system. CADTH delivers evidence, analysis, advice, and recommendations to health care decision-makers so that they can make informed decisions. As part of the reforms this government is implementing to ensure that prescription medicines are more affordable, accessible, and properly prescribed, CADTH's role will be expanded.
Canadians deserve the best health care in the world. However, contemporary health care is heavily dependent on drugs and health technologies. In 2014, the most recent year for which final data are available, drug spending reached $29 billion. The latest estimate, from 2012, for medical devices sold is $6.4 billion. These numbers are only expected to increase in the coming years.
Used effectively and efficiently, these drugs and other health technologies contribute to better health outcomes and deliver good value for money. However, they can also be misused and overused, resulting in harm to patients and a waste of valuable resources that could be better deployed elsewhere. For example, a recent study on unsuitable medication use found that over one-third of seniors filled one or more potentially incorrect prescriptions, resulting in an estimated $419 million being spent by provincial drug plans on the wrong drugs. The current opioid crisis provides us with another example of drugs that may not be properly prescribed. These are clearly calls for better evidence and prescribing.
CADTH, originally named the Canadian Coordinating Office for Health Technology Assessment, was created after a joint committee representing the federal, provincial, and territorial ministries of health identified the need for a new national and independent body to evaluate or assess health technologies to ensure that all Canadians would benefit from the advances being made in this area.
Health technology assessment is the systematic evaluation of the properties, effects, and impacts of a health technology. CADTH provides comprehensive evaluations of the clinical effectiveness, cost-effectiveness, and the ethical, legal, and social implications of drugs and health technologies on patient health and the health care system.
Health technology assessments, or HTAs, offer a valuable tool to policy-makers to support more rational, evidence-based decisions on the adoption of new drugs and other health technologies. CADTH's mandate is to deliver timely, evidence-based information to health care decision-makers across Canada about the effectiveness and efficiency of pharmaceuticals, medical devices, diagnostics, and procedures.
CADTH has helped Canada become a world leader in the field of health technology assessment. CADTH is a great example of provincial, territorial, and federal co-operation in health care. It is an independent, not-for-profit corporation. The agency is owned by, and reports directly to, the 13 provincial and territorial deputy ministers of health and the federal deputy minister of health. It is jointly funded by federal, provincial, and territorial governments, with the federal government providing approximately 70% of CADTH's $27 million budget, and the provinces and territories providing the remaining 30%. Canadian taxpayers get an excellent return for the investment of this money.
One of CADTH's most important programs is the common drug review, or CDR. The CDR is a process for carefully reviewing the clinical cost-effectiveness and patient evidence for drugs. Federal, provincial, and territorial governments across our country use the information to make decisions on which drugs should be listed on formularies and covered by their public drug plans. The pan-Canadian oncology drug review, also managed by CADTH, performs a similar role for cancer drugs. Both of these programs help ensure that patients have access to effective treatments and that taxpayer dollars are spent wisely. Some new drugs do not offer real health improvements and are significantly more expensive than existing treatments. Should these drugs be paid for by public drug insurance plans? CADTH helps us make these important choices.
CADTH's recommendations have also contributed to greater consistency in new drug listings across public drug plans. Additionally, as a signatory to the opioid action plan, CADTH is a part of the joint task force created to address this Canada-wide crisis.
CADTH provides a variety of other important services. For example, CADTH does HTAs on new and existing health technologies. These HTAs provide a full analysis of the clinical and economic aspects of health technology and sometimes include other factors that examine the broader impact of the technology on patient health and the health care system. These assessments cover topics ranging from the effectiveness of drugs for the management of rheumatoid arthritis to the best ways to quit smoking.
Other roles CADTH plays in our health care system include conducting environmental and horizon scans. These scans inform decision-makers about the use of health technologies in other jurisdictions and help guide important decisions within Canada's health care system. For example, environmental scans examine health care practices, processes, and protocols inside and outside of Canada. They help decision-makers better understand the national and international landscape. Horizon scans conducted by CADTH help alert decision-makers to new and emerging health technologies that are likely to have an impact on the delivery of health care in Canada. This early information supports effective planning for the introduction of new technologies in our health care system.
As illustrated by the foregoing, we know that CADTH currently plays an important role in our health care system, but there is more to be done. In addition to exploring the need for a national formulary, our government intends to invest millions of dollars in CADTH. This money will allow the organization to better align its cost-effectiveness reviews with Health Canada's regulatory reviews and to expand the scope of its activities, including conducting evidence reviews at all phase of the therapeutic life cycle and working with the provinces and territories to develop a needs identification and prioritization process. This will better support effective and evidence-based management and prescribing and use of therapeutic products across Canada's health care system.
Right now, Health Canada approves a drug after it reviews its safety, quality, and efficacy. Does the evidence show that the drug does what the manufacture claims? Is it safe, and does the manufacturer meet quality standards? In most instances, drug sponsors begin the process of applying for their drug product to get listed on provincial and territorial formularies by submitting information to CADTH for review only after the Health Canada approval. That could mean a delay of six months or more as CADTH works up a recommendation to public drug plans about whether a drug should be covered, in part on the basis of its cost-effectiveness and in part on clinical and patient evidence.
These two processes should be aligned; if possible, they should be run at the same time so Canadians can get faster access to new, worthwhile treatments.
We are presently pilot-testing the alignment of these processes. This improved coordination would better support effective and evidence-based management, prescribing, and use of therapeutic products across Canada's health care system. Additionally, we will—