Canada may see its first gene therapy by the end of this year. The treatment is for a very rare eye disorder, affecting just 100 to 200 Canadians, and comes at an estimated price of $1 million for both eyes.
For larger patient populations, the 2020 TELUS Health Drug Pipeline report states that the two drug launches most likely to have an impact on private plans are in the areas of diabetes and depression. In both cases, the new therapies are for patients who struggle to manage their condition despite efforts to use existing therapies. While both are priced relatively much higher than first-line therapies, their potential to offset other healthcare costs, including absenteeism and lost productivity, is high.
In the cancer category, researchers continue to find success in the development of targeted treatments based on genetic markers. The recent approval of Canada’s second tumour-agnostic cancer drug—which means it can target tumours regardless of their location in the body—is of particular note for private plans, for two reasons. First, their capsule format positions private plans as the likely first payer. Second, reimbursement decisions are uniquely complex because cost calculations vary based on the type of tumour.
Rounding out this year’s pipeline report are medications for influenza, inflammatory disease and erectile dysfunction. Also included are updates on developments in biosimilar and generic drugs, and a sneak peek at what may be on the horizon.
Click here for the full 2020 TELUS Health Drug Pipeline report.
On the surface the number of patients switching to a biosimilar biologic during phase two of the B.C. government’s Biosimilars Initiative, launched in May 2019, appears low; however, a closer look suggests it is too early to draw conclusions.
Alberta Biosimilar Initiative
On December 12, 2019, the Alberta government introduced the launch of the Alberta Biosimilar Initiative. This program will require patients using several originator biologic drugs to switch to a biosimilar, and patients using a non-biologic complex drug (NBCD) to switch to its subsequent entry version before July 1, 2020 in order to maintain coverage.
READ MORE… Provincial Biosimilar Drug Update
British Columbia has become the first public payer to implement a mandatory switching policy that is expected to dramatically increase the use of biosimilars in the province.
On December 1, 2017 the Canadian Federal Ministry of Health proposed changes to the drug pricing regulations in an effort to protect Canadians from current and future excessive drug costs. Believe it or not, Canadians are spending more per capita on drugs than any other country in the world except for the US!