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Canada failed to develop a domestic COVID vaccine in time for this pandemic, which explains why Ottawa allocated $2.2 billion in the budget for the life sciences industry in the hope we are ready for the next one. Yet the federal government’s proposed drug pricing reforms, due to come into force on July 1, appear to work at cross-purposes to the mission of rebuilding bio-manufacturing capability. “Canada should start preparing for the inevitable next pandemic by establishing a constructive partnership between the federal government and innovative pharma,” Paul Lucas, the retired chief executive of Glaxo SmithKline Canada, wrote earlier this year. But relations with Big Pharma are at a nadir because of what many people consider the heavy-handed approach of the federal regulator, the Patented Medicine Price Review Board. The PMPRB is charged with preventing excessive prices, without affecting innovation or access to new medicines. Industry and patient advocates say that it has been over-zealous in trying to reduce prices, in order to save $13 billion over 10 years.

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