According to Industry Canada, Canadian pharmaceutical segment is a high growth one with domestic production in 2009 valued at nearly $ 12 billion and growing 8.5% annually since 2000. The industry has been witnessing rising sales on a continued basis, largely due to the lower prices resulting from a strict regulatory regime. The production and marketing of Canadian drugs is strictly controlled by the country’s regulatory authorities and the focus is on providing customers drugs that are of good quality.
Canada’s pharmaceutical industry comprises companies that manufacture branded medicines as well as generic medicines. However, the price at which they can sell their products is subject to various limitations. This ensures that manufacturers do not overcharge the consumers.
Reasons for Price Variation between US and Canadian Drugs
Every year thousands of US citizens head to Canada to buy cheaper prescription drugs. The growing popularity of online pharmacies has also boosted the sale of Canadian drugs to US citizens. Although the US laws do not permit import of Canadian medicines, the FDA allows individuals to source their prescription medicines from pharmacies in Canada for a limited period. Cross-border internet pharmacy sales constitute a significant proportion of total drug sales in Canada. It is believed that there is a significant variation in the prices of drugs in Canada and drugs sold in the US and other countries. What are the reasons for this?
Ceiling: Prevalent Canada laws put a ceiling or cap on the amount that can be charged by a drug company from a pharmacy or other distributors. This leads to reduced wholesale cost of medication for most of the organizations.
Price review: The prices of Canadian drugs are determined by Canada’s Patented Medicine Prices Review Board.
Restriction on use of costly drugs: Several Canadian provinces, such as Ontaria and Quebec, the drug formulary restrict the use of new and expensive medicines. The government provides the bulk of drugs to higher users of these medicines. So, various pharmaceuticals companies try to negotiate and lower the prices of their medicines to get them on the formulary list.
Low liability costs: Another reason why Canadian drugs are cheaper is the low liability costs of the drug manufacturing companies. The awards and damages in suits filed against Canadian healthcare companies are in general less than the levels in the US.
Safety of Canadian Drugs
Many questions have been raised about the quality and the genuineness of Canadian drugs. The Canadian regulatory mechanism for production and marketing of drugs is a stringent one and involves a thorough review of the various types of data provided by the sponsor of a drug. Permission to manufacture and market a drug is given only after the regulatory authorities are convinced about its safety and efficacy. Also, a significant proportion of drugs available in Canada have also been approved by the FDA. Again most of the Canadian drugs come from the same manufacturers as those in the US.
Health Canada has in place a strict review process that allows marketing of a drug in Canada only after reviewing the evidence about its safety and efficacy. The US FDA has, however, continues to maintain that when US consumers buy their medications from Canadian or other foreign sources, they are taking a risk. The safety and quality of imported drugs arriving through mail, private express courier or by passengers arriving at ports of entry cannot be guaranteed by the FDA. Buyers
You can, however, reduce the risk of buying fake or counterfeit or expired medicines from a Canadian pharmacy by ensuring that you choose a pharmacy which has the necessary licenses and follows the rules and regulations in place.
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