Drug Funding Sustainability



Provincial cancer programs across Canada are concerned about the sustainability of high-quality cancer control services. The rising cost of cancer drugs is becoming a major challenge to the sustainability of cancer care funding. While tremendous progress has been made in recent years in how cancer drugs are selected and priced, more needs to be done to ensure innovative treatments are available to patients while ensuring value for money for the public.

Work is underway to develop and implement recommendations to improve how new and existing cancer drugs are evaluated, purchased and used through the pan-Canadian Cancer Drug Funding Sustainability Initiative, which is led by the Canadian Association of Provincial Cancer Agencies (CAPCA). The intent is to provide information to support provinces in drug funding decision-making, and build on existing drug evaluation and price negotiation by the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (CADTH)/pan-Canadian Oncology Drug Review (pCODR), the Institut national d’excellence en santé et services sociaux (INESSS), and the pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance (pCPA).

The work builds on the Cancer Quality Council of Ontario (CQCO) 2015 Programmatic Review in which international, pan-Canadian, provincial and local experts, and patient groups were invited to comment on and help shape recommendations to address the sustainability of provincial drug funding programs. The CAPCA Board of Directors, who are the most senior leaders responsible for cancer care in each province and the CEO of the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, took these recommendations forward and agreed to develop a process for prioritizing new cancer drugs and engaging with stakeholders.

About the Partners

The pan-Canadian Cancer Drug Funding Sustainability Initiative is led by CAPCA, working together with the cancer programs, CADTH/ pCODR, and pCPA.

  • CAPCA: An association of provincially designated cancer programs that provides a forum for leaders of Canada’s cancer care system to address issues affecting care delivery in Canada. The Board of Directors includes a senior staff person from every provincial cancer program.
  • CADTH/pCODR: Housed within CADTH, pCODR is an evidence-based, cancer drug review process designed to bring consistency and clarity to the assessment of cancer drugs. It reviews clinical evidence, cost-effectiveness, clinician and patient perspectives to make recommendations to Canada’s provinces and territories (except Quebec) to guide their drug funding decisions.
  • pCPA: All 13 provinces and territories and the federally funded drug plans participate in pCPA. The goal is to work together to achieve greater value for brand name and generic drugs for publicly funded drug programs.
  • CPAC: An independent organization funded by the federal government to accelerate action on cancer control for all Canadians.
  • INESSS: Details of involvement by INESSS to follow.


Consultation and Input

This multi-year undertaking is in early stages. Experts are starting to work together to develop a prioritization framework and criteria to assess affordability. CAPCA and its partners are engaging with key stakeholders – patient groups, pharmaceutical industry and clinicians – to share information and seek input.

Webinars for patient advocacy groups and the pharmaceutical industry, and a separate webinar specifically for clinicians, were held on January 19 and February 14, respectively. You can access the webinar recordings using the following links:

The webinars were followed by invitational roundtables in February and early March in Toronto and Vancouver.

Anyone interested in submitting feedback may do so through an online survey that will remain open until March 31 or by sending an email to DFSinquiries@capca.ca.