Coalition puts spotlight on secret government drug deals

Groups representing seniors, consumers and labour say access to affordable medicines threatened in Canada

Ottawa (3 July 2008) - A coalition of groups representing seniors, consumers and labour is investigating a trend among provincial governments toward signing secret tender agreements with pharmaceutical companies.

A research report released Thursday by Aidan Hollis, an economist at the University of Calgarys Institute for Advanced Policy Research, suggests that the coalition has legitimate cause to worry.

The report reveals that the use of a recent secret tender by B.C. PharmaCare for olanzapine ... a blockbuster anti-psychotic drug ... has resulted in B.C. patients, who pay out-of-pocket, or through private insurers, being charged the highest price in Canada for the drug.

Holliss findings have led the coalition to mobilize against the use of such secret government tendering. At present, the coalition is comprised of the these organizations:

  • Alliance of Seniors / Older Canadians Network
  • Canadian Pensioners Concerned Incorporated
  • National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE)

Derrell Dular, managing director of the Alliance of Seniors / Older Canadians Network, says: -We are concerned about whether recent cost containment practices will actually result in higher drug prices for people without drug benefits."

Holliss report suggests that not only is this concern warranted but also that secret tendering could lead to reduced access to drugs in the future ... even for PharmaCare. It suggests that generic drug manufacturers will refuse to continue spending the money to end drug patent monopolies, causing patients across the board to lose in the long run.

James Clancy, national president of NUPGE, one of Canadas largest unions with over 340,000 members, says: -The B.C. government has entered into one secret agreement of which we are aware and it threatens to enter into several more. The olanzapine agreement has B.C.s citizens paying 63% more for the drug than those in Alberta pay for the exact same drug. This alone suggests that the sole source tendering strategy may be misguided."

The coalition will be seeking a meeting with the B.C. minister of health to voice their concerns. Holliss report is available online: Download Report

More information:

  • Len Bush, National Representative
    National Union of Public and General Employees
    Tel: 613-327-1853 -


  • Alliance of Seniors / Older Canadians Network

    Founded in 1993, the Alliance of Seniors / Older Canadians Network is a diverse and growing, non-partisan, not-for-profit coalition of individuals and organizations representing the concerns of older adults (50 plus). Its mission is to preserve and enhance Canada's social programs on behalf of present and future generations; to promote a society where all persons have an equal opportunity to live with dignity, to realize their potential, and to participate in the democratic process; and to educate and raise public awareness about the values, life experiences, and lessons learned by Canadas older citizens.

  • Canadian Pensioners Concerned Incorporated

    Canadian Pensioners Concerned Incorporated (CPC) is a national organization with charitable status. CPC works for the establishment of an acceptable and dignified living standard for older citizens of Canada and their families. CPCs goal is to advocate on behalf of older persons, to ensure that systems, legislation and programs that serve to assist and protect seniors are in place and are implemented responsibly and to educate the general public about the needs of older adults.

  • National Union of Public and General Employees

    The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is a family of 11 component unions. Taken together it is one of the largest unions in Canada, representing working people in the public, private and non-profit sectors. NUPGE

Web posted by NUPGE: 3 July 2008