The Pan-Canadian Cancer Drug Funding Sustainability Initiative

Canada has one of the best cancer control systems in the world. Cancers are being cured and Canadians with cancer are living longer. This is largely due to improvements in our understanding of how to treat cancer and the availability of effective and innovative therapies. Innovation in cancer treatment has led to meaningful improvements in the quality of life for patients, and has added months and sometimes years to patients’ lives.

The goal of the Cancer Drug Funding Sustainability Initiative is to ensure Canadian patients continue to have access to innovative and effective cancer treatments and that our cancer system is achieving maximum value for the money invested.

This work was launched in 2016 by CAPCA and its partners because the sustainability and strengths of our cancer system are at risk. The numbers of Canadians with cancer are growing and many require treatment for longer periods of time. Costs of cancer treatment – in particular drug costs – are rising, and the number of new drugs that will become available in the coming years, many of which are very expensive, is mounting.

The impact on cancer drug budgets is already sobering. In the last five years cancer drug budgets have increased between 43% and 82% in British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario. In Ontario, this translates to an increase of $50 million per year.

The continued pressure on drug budgets is not sustainable and there is a real possibility that this will limit access to innovative cancer drugs, place an even greater financial burden on the cancer system, patients and their families, and mean fewer resources for other areas of cancer care. Canada is not alone. Jurisdictions around the world are facing similar challenges.

Building A Sustainable Cancer System

CAPCA is collaborating with our partners to strengthen our cancer system so it is able to deliver quality care to Canadians with cancer today and into the future.

Bringing together experts who are already working on the implementation of new cancer drugs at the provincial level and a patient, a family and a public representative, the Cancer Drug Funding Sustainability Initiative provides advice to provincial Ministries and Departments of Health regarding drug funding decision-making.

This is achieved by working with existing processes for drug evaluation and price negotiation established by the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health /pan-Canadian Oncology Drug Review (CADTH/pCODR), the Institut national d’excellence en santé et services sociaux (INESSS) in Quebec, and the pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance (pCPA).

It is worth noting that in May 2017 the Government of Quebec published a strategy (“La stratégie québécoise des sciences de la vie“)to improve speed of access to drugs that have received a positive recommendation in Quebec. This will also help align the timing of CADTH/pCODR and INESS recommendations.