Big drug companies overcharging Canadians | National Union of Public and General Employees

Big drug companies overcharging Canadians

Annual report released by Patented Medicine Prices Review Board.

Ottawa (30 July 2009) - Canadian pharmaceutical companies overcharged for patented drugs by about $27 million last year, says the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board (PMPRB).

In its annual report, the board says the guilty companies involved have since paid the federal government a fee, reimbursed customers or reduced prices to offset the excessive charges.

For the fiscal year 2008-09, seven companies set prices too high on nine new patented medicines, adding up to about $27.3 million in unwarranted costs to consumers.

Already in 2009, the board says two companies have set prices too high, resulting in almost $15 million in "excess revenues."

Since it began issuing orders or negotiating voluntary repayments from drug companies in 1993, the review board has arranged the payback of about $77.7 million, the report says.

Sales of patented drugs in Canada added up to about $13 billion in 2008, an increase of 5% over 2007. The figures don't include "generics" - products similar to brand-name drugs but not under patent.

Eight drugs are currently the subject of review board hearings, including the popular anti-smoking patch Nicoderm, which has been the subject of a board investigation and legal action for more than a decade.

The board says of 78 patented drug products introduced in Canada in 2008, 18 were either under review or being investigated. 

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) has been calling on the federal government to reform its drug patent laws and to establish a national pharmacare program to reduce drug costs and ensure universal access to medications.

Download NUPGE's publication: Pharmacare: Create a National Pharmacare Program?


The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE 

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