National Patient Survey Shows Concerns about Access to Medicines in Canada

Toronto, ON (Sept 23, 2014): Santis Health released findings of its national survey of Canadian patient and disease-focused organizations. The survey polled 26 organizations and showed that patient groups have significant concerns with the access to public drugs in Canada.

“Patients are often waiting too long for too little coverage,” said Jackie Manthorne, President and CEO of the Canadian Cancer Survivor Network. ”We hope that governments think about how they can make sure that vital decisions about drug access are made on a timely basis and with the participation of patient representatives who have the most at stake.”

On September 23rd Santis is hosting a patient symposium to present the findings of the survey. These findings are being released in advance of the meeting of provincial and territorial health ministers, set to take place in Banff at the end of September.

“With advances in life sciences research, we expect to see an increase in the number of new medicines,” said Ken Chan, Vice President, Advocacy, Research and Healthcare, Cystic Fibrosis Canada. “It’s time for Canada’s public drug programs to be proactive in adapting to the changing innovation landscape with a view of ensuring that patients can access new medicines faster. This can be done by governments working collaboratively with each other, and disease groups, medical experts and the pharmaceutical industry to develop a sustainable pan-Canadian solution.”

Durhane Wong-Rieger, President & CEO of Canadian Organization for Rare Disorders also noted, “Governments have not evolved in their assessment and funding of drugs in ways that reflect the realities of the new medicines. Too often provinces are saying “no” rather than looking for appropriate ways to provide access. While there have been processes for patient engagement on drug access decision making, for the most part, these have not had meaningful impact on access decisions. This has been especially true for rare disease drugs that tend not to fit into the traditional assessment process.”

The survey showed that 69.2% of respondents believed that current delays accessing new medicines is compromising patient health outcomes, and subsequently increasing the cost of health care, nationally; while 84% said that the cost of drugs made access difficult. (For the full report visit:

Jason Grier, Santis Principal, noted the timeliness of this report, “As health ministers prepare to gather in Banff at the end of September, these patient perspectives will be useful.”