The chief director of Canada’s drug pricing regulator is stepping down — just days after one other member resigned due to concerns that the federal government was undermining the independent body’s work.
Douglas Clark, with the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board, announced Friday he could be leaving his post after almost a decade with the regulator that oversees the costs of medicines sold in Canada.
A day earlier, Matthew Herder, a professor of health law at Dalhousie University, announced he had resigned from the board, accusing the federal government of failing to implement critically necessary reforms that will lower the fee of medication.
“The federal government has fundamentally undermined the board’s independence and credibility,” Herder said in his resignation letter addressed to federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos. Herder said he now not believed it was possible to serve the general public good in his role, which he had held since 2018.
Herder responded Friday on social media to news of Clark’s resignation, calling it an “an immense, irreplaceable loss.”
Federal NDP Health Critic Don Davies is asking for an investigation into Duclos’ alleged involvement in delaying drug reforms that will save Canadians money. Davies said in an announcement Friday that for a minister to interfere in an independent regulator’s mandate is “highly questionable” and that prioritizing drug industry profits “over the welfare of Canadian patients is totally unacceptable.”
Clark has agreed to stay with the board as a special adviser for an unspecified period of time, and the board said work to appoint Clark’s successor could be launched soon.
“People may come and go however the commitment of staff on the (regulator) to the very highest ideals of public service is unwavering and can endure,” Clark said in an announcement.
The Patented Medicine Prices Review Board declined to comment, and Health Canada didn’t immediately reply to questions.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2023.
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