Manulife supports measures to reduce medication costs in Canada

Toronto, ON (Aug. 9, 2019) – Earlier today, the Government of Canada announced changes to the Patented Medicine Price Review Board.[1] These changes should significantly reduce the cost of new medicines in Canada.

Life and health insurers play a vital role by providing more than 25 million Canadians with access to a wide range of prescription drugs and other health supports through extended health care plans. Manulife has been working with government and health care stakeholders to promote solutions that lower the cost of medicines and extend prescription drug coverage to all Canadians through a wide range of benefit plans.

“Manulife strongly supports measures to reduce the cost of medications,” said Donna Carbell, Head of Group Benefits, Manulife Canada. “Today’s announcement is an important one because it will help employers continue to provide comprehensive drug coverage to employees and their families.”

Manulife is proud to work with more than 21,000 employers to deliver workplace health benefits including prescription drug coverage, dental and other health coverage to 5 million Canadians. Our plans are designed to help keep Canadian workers and their families healthy resulting in healthier workplaces for employees.


1. See below (backgrounder): Government of Canada Announces Changes to Lower Drug Prices and Lay the Foundation for National Pharmacare.

About Manulife

Manulife Financial Corporation is a leading international financial services group that helps people make their decisions easier and lives better. We operate primarily as John Hancock in the United States and Manulife elsewhere. We provide financial advice, insurance, as well as wealth and asset management solutions for individuals, groups and institutions. At the end of 2018, we had more than 34,000 employees, over 82,000 agents, and thousands of distribution partners, serving almost 28 million customers. As of June 30, 2019, we had over $1.1 trillion (US$877 billion) in assets under management and administration, and in the previous 12 months we made $29.4 billion in payments to our customers. Our principal operations in Asia, Canada and the United States are where we have served customers for more than 100 years. With our global headquarters in Toronto, Canada, we trade as ‘MFC’ on the Toronto, New York, and the Philippine stock exchanges and under ‘945’ in Hong Kong. For more information, visit

Source: Manulife Financial Corporation


Government of Canada Announces Changes to Lower Drug Prices and Lay the Foundation for National Pharmacare

Ottawa, ON (Aug. 9, 2019) – Today, the Government of Canada announced the final amendments to the Patented Medicines Regulations.[1] The most significant reforms to the regulations since their introduction in 1987, these amendments will give the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board (PMPRB) the tools to protect Canadians from excessive prices and make patented medicines more affordable.

Millions of Canadians rely on prescription drugs to stay healthy, manage chronic conditions and cure disease—yet they pay some of the highest prices in the world. Last year, more than a million Canadians had to give up essentials like food and heat to afford the medications they need. That’s why the Government of Canada is delivering on its commitment to lower drug prices for all Canadians.

Firstly, these amendments will change the “basket” of countries we compare ourselves to when setting drug prices, so that prices here are judged against countries that actually look like Canada in terms of population, economy and approach to health care.

Secondly, these changes will provide the PMPRB with the actual market price of medicines in Canada—rather than inflated list or “sticker” price—to more accurately assess whether a price is reasonable when setting a price ceiling.

Finally, they will let the PMPRB consider whether the price of a drug actually reflects the value it has for patients.

This suite of measures, which the Government is implementing to lay the groundwork for National Pharmacare, is the foundation of a system that enables all Canadians to get and afford the medicines they need.

“Today, we take the biggest step to lower drug prices in a generation,” said The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Health. “Building on the progress we’ve already made towards lower drug prices, these bold reforms will both make prescription drugs more affordable and accessible for all Canadians—saving them an estimated $13 billion dollars in the next decade—and lay the foundation for National Pharmacare.”

Quick Facts

  • Canadians pay among the highest patented drug prices in the world, after only the United States and Switzerland. Canadians pay close to 25% more than the median price that people in other developed countries pay for the same drugs.
  • These amendments are expected to save Canadians approximately $13.2 billion over 10 years on patented drug costs.
  • In its final report, the Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare made clear that strengthening the Patented Medicines Regulations is absolutely essential to lowering drug prices and moving towards National Pharmacare.
  • The amended Patented Medicines Regulations will be published in the Canada Gazette, Part II, on August 21, 2019. In the meantime, Canadians may request a copy from Health Canada at [email protected].
  • These changes are the product of three years of extensive consultations, study and review, including retaining former Bank of Canada Governor David Dodge to assess the methodology.
  • The PMPRB is a federal agency created in 1987 under the Patent Act to ensure that Canadians are protected and that pharmaceutical companies do not abuse their patent rights by charging excessive prices.
  • The Patent Act and the Patented Medicines Regulations set out the factors and information to be considered by the PMPRB when determining whether the price of a patented medicine is excessive.
  • When the PMPRB determines that a patented medicine is priced excessively, it can order the patent holder to reduce the price at which the medicine is sold and to offset the amount of excess revenues it has received.

Source: Health Canada

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