Activities of the pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance: An Observational Analysis

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Angela Rocchi
Fergal Mills


Drug reimbursement, price negotiation, economic evaluation, prioritization.


Background: The pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance (pCPA) was established in 2010 to negotiate confidential prices for drugs coming forward from Canada’s centralized health technology assessment (HTA) agency reviews, on behalf of the participating public drug plans.

Objective:  To analyze the activities of the pCPA, to determine: alignment of HTA agency recommendations and pCPA negotiation decisions; the role of health economics in pCPA activities; and patterns of implicit prioritization.

Methods: The analysis was based on the archive of drugs handled through the pCPA, as posted on its website. The period of observation was from inception to August 31, 2017. HTA recommendations were sourced from the websites of the Common Drug Review (CDR) and the pan-Canadian Oncology Drug Review. Descriptive and statistical analyses were conducted.

Results: The dataset contained 206 drug-indication pairings. There was close but imperfect alignment between HTA agency recommendations and the pCPA’s decisions to negotiate; deviations occurred only with CDR-reviewed drugs. The median incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of negotiated drugs was $168K/QALY for oncology drugs, but $70K/QALY for non-oncology drugs. The time to initiate negotiations was dramatically shorter for oncology versus non-oncology drugs (mean 54 versus 263 days), and also differed between therapeutic areas at CDR. The time required for PCPA activity was surprisingly similar for drugs recommended without a price condition and for those conditional on a price reduction.

Conclusion: These findings revealed a strong alignment between HTA recommendations and pCPA negotiations, an implicit prioritization favouring oncology drug negotiations, and an evolving role for health economics in Canada’s reimbursement process.

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