Health care

Nova Scotia to save $12 million in generic drug deal, minister says

Public drug programs in Nova Scotia currently cost $270 million

Health Minister Randy Delorey speaks to journalists about generic drug prices on Tuesday.   Heather Norman

Health Minister Randy Delorey says a new generic drug deal will save the province approximately $12 million, but he doesn’t expect it’ll have a big impact on the “bottom line.”

While we see a reduction in the cost of drugs, the demand is also going up,” Delorey said to reporters on Tuesday.

His comments come one day after the announcement of a five-year deal to lower generic drug costs, covered under public drug plans in Canada.

The deal is between the pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance, which represents all 13 provinces and territories and the federal government, and the Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association. As of April 1, the cost of almost 70 different generic drugs will drop 25 to 40 per cent. The pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance says some of these drugs will be 90 per cent cheaper than their brand name alternatives.

In particular, drugs that treat high cholesterol, high blood pressure or depression, which are collectively used by millions of Canadians, are among those receiving a price decrease.

In return for the price cuts, provinces that run public drug plans agreed not to use open tenders for them for a five-year period.

Altogether, public drug programs in Nova Scotia currently cost the province $270 million.

Perry Sankarsingh, senior executive director of contract management at the Department of Health and Wellness, stressed how much of an impact this change will have on consumers.

“This agreement impacts pretty much everyone that buys a pharmaceutical product or a generic product,” he said.

As part of the agreement, the Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association agreed to an above the board price discount, Sankarsingh said. This means there will also be savings for members of the public who aren’t covered by public or private plans and who may “have to pay out of pocket for drugs.”

Sixty to 70 per cent of drugs purchased through Nova Scotia public drug plans are generic.