Sunday, February 03, 2008

Ottawa moves to reduce price of drug after cancer patients complain of gouging

From the Globe and Mail:
A cancer drug will be subject to retroactive price controls after its cost to patients jumped almost ninefold - to as much as $4,200 a month.

The Patented Medicine Prices Review Board ruled that it has jurisdiction over the multiple myeloma drug thalidomide and can regulate its cost.

The next step is for the board to scrutinize the drug's price with an eye to determining whether it is excessive - as patients and at least one cancer agency have charged.

If the price of the half-century-old drug, which can be made for less than a dime per capsule in a Brazilian government laboratory, are found to have been too high over the past 13 years, governments could receive refunds. Today, one capsule costs about $35.

According to E. Richard Gold, a lawyer who specializes in patents, the decision closes a loophole. Since the drug is not licensed by Health Canada and was available only under its special-access program, it avoided price regulation. ...more

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