St. John’s—The process for approving generic drugs is weeks longer in Newfoundland and Labrador than in other Atlantic provinces, but some changes are in the works, a Department of Health spokesman said Wednesday in response to criticism.
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On Tuesday, the Council of Independent Community Pharmacy Owners said this province is too slow to list its formulary generic drugs that have been approved by Health Canada.
The current process for adding to the provincial formulary is about six-to-eight weeks longer than other Atlantic provinces as an advisory committee provides a final recommendation to the health minister, the spokesman said.
Amendments are being finalized to the formulary’s regulations allowing many routine approvals to be made directly by the minister, which would make the timelines consistent with other Atlantic provinces.
In the specific case of Aricept, an alzheimer’s medication, the drug’s manufacturer submitted its request for inclusion on the provincial formulary after the deadline for the January 2014 review process. This drug is expected to be reviewed for inclusion this month.
The spokesman said the provincial government’s approach to generic drug pricing has benefited the public drug plan, as well as private insurance programs and cash-paying customers.
In 2007, 33 per cent of paid claims under the provincial drug program were for generic drugs and in 2012 that number grew to be 63 per cent.
The spokesman said money saved on generic drugs — as opposed to brand name medications — goes to other programs, including fees to the Pharmacy Association of Newfoundland and Labrador under the new agreement and the reduction of out-of-pocket costs for beneficiaries for those covered under the 65Plus plan, which ensures low income seniors do not pay more than $6 per prescription.