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Do reimbursement recommendation processes used by government drug plans in Canada adhere to good governance principles?

Authors Rawson NS, Adams J

Received 23 June 2017

Accepted for publication 24 October 2017

Published 22 November 2017 Volume 2017:9 Pages 721—730


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Professor Giorgio Lorenzo Colombo

Nigel SB Rawson,1–3 John Adams4

1Eastlake Research Group, Oakville, ON, 2Canadian Health Policy Institute, Toronto, ON, 3Fraser Institute, Vancouver, BC, 4Canadian PKU and Allied Disorders Inc., Toronto, ON, Canada

Abstract: In democratic societies, good governance is the key to assuring the confidence of stakeholders and other citizens in how governments and organizations interact with and relate to them and how decisions are taken. Although defining good governance can be debatable, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) set of principles is commonly used. The reimbursement recommendation processes of the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (CADTH), which carries out assessments for all public drug plans outside Quebec, are examined in the light of the UNDP governance principles and compared with the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence system in England. The adherence of CADTH's processes to the principles of accountability, transparency, participatory, equity, responsiveness and consensus is poor, especially when compared with the English system, due in part to CADTH's lack of genuine independence. CADTH's overriding responsibility is toward the governments that "own," fund and manage it, while the agency’s status as a not-for-profit corporation under federal law protects it from standard government forms of accountability. The recent integration of CADTH’s reimbursement recommendation processes with the provincial public drug plans’ collective system for price negotiation with pharmaceutical companies reinforces CADTH's role as a nonindependent partner in the pursuit of governments’ cost-containment objectives, which should not be part of its function. Canadians need a national organization for evaluating drugs for reimbursement in the public interest that fully embraces the principles of good governance – one that is publicly accountable, transparent and fair and includes all stakeholders throughout its processes.

Keywords: drug reimbursement recommendation, health technology assessment, governance, Canada, drug insurance

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