Waiting for new medicines in Canada, Europe, and the United States: Study finds Americans get better and faster access to innovative drugs

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TORONTO, April 11, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — A recent study published by the Canadian Health Policy Institute examined the availability and wait times for access to new drugs, accounting for product launches, marketing authorizations, and insurance coverage under publicly funded drug plans in Canada, Europe, and the United States.

The research found that Americans get better and faster access to innovative medicines compared to Europeans and Canadians.

Data showed that the United States was the top priority market for new drug launches. More than two out of every three new drug applications submitted across the jurisdictions from 2018 to 2022 were launched first in the United States.

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Of the marketing authorizations for new drugs that accrued during the same timeframe, the US Food and Drug Administration approved 45% more than Health Canada, and 13% more than the European Medicines Agency.

On average, Canada’s public drug plans covered only 12% of the new medicines covered by US Medicare part D drug plans, and European public drug plans covered 88%.

In total, from the first date that a new drug application was launched in any of the 3 markets, to the date the drug was positively listed on the formulary of a public drug plan, publicly insured Canadians waited an average of 2.5 years longer than Americans insured under Medicare, and publicly insured Europeans waited 4 months longer.

Policy options to facilitate access to new drugs include:

  • Drug prices should be voluntarily negotiated subject to competitive market forces. Research suggests that price regulation is a factor in pharmaceutical company decisions regarding market priority for new drug launches.
  • National regulatory efficiency can be improved through mutual recognition of marketing authorizations issued first by regulators in other jurisdictions.
  • New drugs should get interim insurance coverage immediately following regulatory approval, pending post-market processes for health technology assessment, and public reimbursement.
  • Patent term restoration should compensate for regulatory approval delays, and subsequent delays caused by HTA and public reimbursement.

The study is available free of charge at www.canadianhealthpolicy.com.

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