As American patients turn to Canada for cheaper drugs,Canadians are turning to generics to hold down their medicationcosts. Although Canadian price controls have heldbranded drug prices below levels in the United States,acceptance of lower-cost generic drugs has been slowernorth of the border.
That may soon change, however, due to a new pharmaceutical reform initiativebeing pushed by officials in Ontario. Legislative changes in the worksthere include a dramatic shortening of the approval process for new genericdrugs and new rules allowing Canadian pharmacists to substitute genericsfor branded products without contacting the prescribing physician.
The pro-generic changes, which supporters say will lower health costs by$60 million a year in Ontario, are under heavy fire from Canada's brand namedrug manufacturers, who fear the loss of market share. Meanwhile, Canada'sgeneric drug makers are not happy with provisions of the plan that cut governmentpayments for their products by 20%.