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BC Government Announces Drug Price Regulations

On Friday, November 23rd , the BC government announced the details of its new drug pricing regulations. In April 2013, they will reduce the price of generic drugs to 25 per cent of the brand name price. One year later, in April 2014, they will further reduce the cost to 20 per cent.

Ken Martin, CEO, Pacific Blue Cross was quoted in their release. "We are supportive of government's work in reducing the price of generic drugs. The new regulation brings B.C. in line with other Canadian jurisdictions and will help ensure fair and consistent pricing for B.C. families."

Currently, BC residents, pay 35 per cent of the brand name price for generic drugs. It’s a notable decrease from early 2010 and prior when we were paying 60-70 per cent.

Before AgreementOct 15, 2010July 04, 2011Apr 02, 2012April 1, 2013April 1, 2014
Generics60-70%50%40%35%25%20%


Drugs are integral to patient health

The escalating cost of drugs not only threatens consumer health outcomes when patients can no longer afford medications, it also puts drug plans at risk when employers and employees can no longer afford the increasing premiums.

In recent years, many brand name blockbuster drugs reached the end of their 20-year patents and generic equivalents quickly became available. This transition from brand to generic offers many savings to private payers (insurers and consumers) and public plans alike.

The B.C. government had initially proposed a gradual reduction to 25 per cent, but terminated the agreement with the B.C. Pharmacy Association and the Canadian Association of Chain Drug Stores in April 2012 when, according to Health Minister Michael de Jong, "much of those savings did not materialize."

The first of a suite of regulations

Friday’s announcement was positioned as "the first in a suite of regulations required to fully implement the Pharmaceutical Services Act, which came into force in May 2012. The act shifts B.C.’s PharmaCare program from relying on government policy, to being protected by legislation."

Pacific Blue Cross takes the issue of drug cost containment seriously. Together with the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association (CLHIA), we believe that drug pricing agreements should extend to all stakeholders.

Pacific Blue Cross continues to work with plan sponsors to help maximize their savings.

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