Pharmacare: The Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal urges government to consider drug costs from an overall perspective and protect access to the best available drugs
Pierre Laferrière, president of the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal
Montreal, March 15, 2000 "The Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal urges the Quebec government to consider drug costs from an overall perspective, as an essential component of the Quebec health care system, and to maintain not only full access to the best available drugs but also full patent protection," declared Pierre Laferrière, president of the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal, to the advisory commission on Quebec's drug benefit plan.
"It seems there is too often a tendency to consider the health-care system as a series of independent entities - the hospital system, CLSCs, social services, home care, drugs - while in fact all of these components are closely interrelated. Drugs are assuming growing importance in our health care system and, with new genetic treatments, they will assume even greater importance.
"More effective drugs can increase life expectancy, considerably improve health, reduce the length and number of hospital stays, and reduce the number of surgical procedures. The real question is thus not whether we can shave $15 million off the pharmacare budget but whether such savings would not, in the long run, cost us hundreds of millions of dollars in increased hospital care."
Groundbreaking pharmaceutical research goes hand in hand with patent protection
"In addition, the Board of Trade urges the government to maintain full pharmaceutical patent protection and authorize the use of the best available drugs - not only because this would benefit public health and also public finances but also because such a policy would contribute to the growth of pharmaceutical research and the quality and development of the entire health care industry, particularly in the metropolitan area.
"It is no coincidence that almost 45 percent of the innovative pharmaceutical industry and 40 percent of biotech companies are established in Greater Montreal. These firms invest more than $300 million in R&D each year; since 1990, they have injected more than $2 billion into Greater Montreal's economy.
"These firms contribute almost $50 million annually to university research, and they are essential to the vitality of a dynamic medical community, where cutting-edge physicians, pharmacology and health-care researchers, specialized institutions, and universities work together to make Montreal and Quebec a world-class health care centre of excellence.
"We must not risk destroying a winning combination that is vital to both our health care system and our economy," concluded Laferrière.
The Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal has more than 7 000 members. Its mission is to be the leading group representing the interests of the Greater Montreal business community. The objectives are to maintain, at all times, relevance to its membership, credibility towards the public and influence towards government and decision-makers.