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Exclusive: Facing crackdown in Canada, drugmakers offered billions in price cuts | Reuters

TORONTO (Reuters) – Canadian pharmaceutical industry lobby groups, in an effort to head off a planned crackdown on prescription drug prices, offered to give up C$8.6 billion ($6.6 billion) in revenue over 10 years, freeze prices or reduce the cost of treating rare diseases, according to interviews and documents seen by Reuters.

FILE PHOTO: A pharmacist counts pills in a pharmacy in Toronto in this January 31, 2008 file photo. REUTERS/Mark Blinch/Files
Those industry offers did not impress federal officials, coming last year as Canada prepared to expand the powers of a little-known federal watchdog called the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board (PMPRB) to reduce the cost of prescription drugs.

The government proposals would change the countries Canada compares its prices to, dropping the United States where they are highest, and set a formula to assess cost-effectiveness of medicines.

Announced in 2017, the new rules were scheduled to come into effect last month but have been delayed as the government reviews feedback, which has some wondering if they will ever be implemented.

Lower prices in Canada could eventually hit drugmakers in the most lucrative U.S. market, as Washington evaluates a proposal to base drug prices paid under the government’s Medicare program on the cost of medicines in other developed nations, including Canada.

Global drugmakers, including Johnson & Johnson, Merck & Co, Amgen Inc and others, have argued against the Canadian proposal. They referred questions back to Innovative Medicines Canada.

‘WOULD NOT ACHIEVE THE GOAL’
With major drugmakers united in their condemnation of proposed regulations to rein in prices, Health Canada hired former Bank of Canada governor David Dodge and health economist Åke Blomqvist to assess the government proposal. Their review, completed in August 2018, broadly endorsed the government’s plan, documents seen by Reuters showed.

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Exclusive: Facing crackdown in Canada, drugmakers offered billions in price cuts | Reuters.