Just in time for the fast-approaching federal election – which could be called as early as this Sunday – Life Sciences Ontario submitted two key recommendations to the federal Finance Committee for its 2022 pre-budget consultations. LSO wants the federal government to: (1) implement the Biomanufacturing and Life Sciences Strategy; and (2) ensure any changes to the PMPRB do not block access to new medicines.
The Finance Committee asked stakeholders for “measures the federal government could take to restart the Canadian economy, as it recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
LSO’s submission highlights our sector’s role in Canada’s COVID-19 response, economic recovery and resilience to future health crises and other pressing challenges, such as climate change and food security.
The submission calls on the government to “seize this moment to empower a truly integrated life sciences ecosystem that unlocks the globally competitive potential of our sector in support of our economic recovery and future prosperity.”
LSO’s call to rally a common voice for business, research and sector leaders in the run-up to Budget 2021 – anchored with our letter to Prime Minister Trudeau (www.lifesciencescan.ca and www.sciencesdelaviecanada.ca) – helped drive new investments in the sector and the announcement of a coordinated Biomanufacturing and Life Sciences Strategy.
The Strategy’s success will hinge, however, on how it is implemented, including Pillar 5 of the plan, which commits to “enable innovation by ensuring world class regulation.” The biggest regulatory obstacle to the life sciences sector remains the government’s reforms to the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board (PMPRB). The federal price controls are a cloud of regulatory uncertainty that is a major brake on the sector’s ability to invest in and launch new vaccines and medicines in Canada. This challenge was recognized by the government during the pandemic when it exempted COVID therapies and vaccines from the reforms.
As LSO’s submission notes: “Efforts to implement the Biomanufacturing and Life Sciences Strategy will never be successful if the PMPRB changes are left unaddressed. Without access to new medicines, we can build the infrastructure and the labs, but we won’t have anything to put in the vials or capsules. We need to start valuing the new innovations that are brought to or developed in Canada, and this must start with a reconsideration of the PMPRB changes. This will signal to the industry that Canada is willing to forge a new relationship with the sector.”