Innovative Medicines Canada: How the innovative pharmaceutical industry will help Canada’s economy recover from COVID-19

The Canadian Business Resilience Network brings together a vast network of over 450 chambers of commerce and boards of trade and more than 100 of Canada’s leading business and industry associations, from all regions and sectors of the economy. This network represents diverse viewpoints, and the CBRN blog provides a platform to share ideas with other members of the business community and the federal government. The opinions expressed in this blog post do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of CBRN or the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. 

By Pamela Fralick, President, Innovative Medicines Canada

As most Canadian businesses desperately search for a road to financial recovery from COVID-19, an unprecedented collaboration among governments and the innovative pharmaceutical industry is helping guide the country through the pandemic and may ultimately hold the key to restarting the country’s economic engine – namely, by defeating the contagion with vaccines and other therapies.

As president of the association that represents 42 companies – all of whom are revolutionizing healthcare through the discovery and development of new medicines and vaccines – I am proud of how our government has risen to the challenge during the COVID pandemic. The same administration will now meet the challenges of economic recovery– challenges that will require Ottawa to rethink some planned policies and regulations threatening to stifle investment and economic growth at a time when the opposite is critical.

Governments clearly understand the value of the innovative pharmaceutical industry to the Canadian economy. Contributing over $19 billion annually to national wealth, and supporting 30,000 high-quality jobs across Canada, our industry goes to work every day knowing there is certainly no more pressing issue than the fight against COVID-19. We also passionately believe that biopharmaceutical innovation will play a critical role in Canada’s economic and social recovery, contributing to the sustainability of our healthcare systems and improving our quality of life through the development of therapies that speed recovery from illness, and vaccines that prevent it altogether.

We are doing our part to help governments and decision-makers achieve their policy objectives.

Our sector is contributing in tangible ways to Canadian economic development, and helping to ensure that Canadians get the medicines they need to lead a healthy life.

Unfortunately, the pharmaceutical industry’s substantial impact on vital Canadian healthcare and national economic recovery is being put at risk by changes to the regulatory framework of the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board due to come into effect on January 1, 2021. However well-intentioned, those changes will have serious side-effects for all Canadians, including:

  • Delaying or preventing Canadians from accessing new medicines, including for rare diseases;
  • Deterring biopharma investment in Canada;
  • Impeding industry efforts to assist Canadian governments with economic recovery;
  • Reducing the number of clinical trials of promising new medicines in Canada; and
  • Increasing regulatory red tape at a time when industry and governments need to move quickly.

Just as the federal government confronted the COVID-19 economic collapse with an unprecedented financial intervention, Canada’s leaders must now ensure the road to recovery is cleared of red-tape that impedes economic growth and diminishes access to critical new medicines Canadians deserve. Together, we can achieve a stable, innovative life sciences environment that provides better health, access to new medicines and vaccines, economic opportunities, and enhanced protection and preparedness in the wake of the global pandemic.