Addressing the affordability of cancer drugs: using deliberative public engagement to inform health policy Journal Articles uri icon

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abstract

  • BACKGROUND: Health system expenditure on cancer drugs is rising rapidly in many OECD countries given the costly new treatments and increased rates of use due to a growing and ageing population. These factors put considerable strain on the sustainability of health systems worldwide, sparking public debate among clinicians, pharmaceutical companies, policy-makers and citizens on issues of affordability and equity. We engaged Canadians through a series of deliberative public engagement events to determine their priorities for making cancer drug funding decisions fair and sustainable in Canada's publicly financed health system. METHODS: An approach to deliberation was developed based on the McMaster Health Forum's citizen panels and the established Burgess and O'Doherty model of deliberative public engagement.¬†Six deliberations were held across Canada in 2016. Transcripts were coded in NVivo and analysed to determine where participants' views converged and diverged. Recommendations were grouped thematically. RESULTS: A total of 115 Canadians participated in the deliberative events and developed 86 recommendations. Recommendations included the review and regular re-review of approved drugs using 'real-world' evidence on effectiveness and cost-effectiveness; prioritisation of treatments that restore patients' independence, mental health and general well-being; ensuring that decision processes, results and their rationales are transparent; and commitment to people with similar needs receiving the same care regardless of where in Canada they live. CONCLUSIONS: The next steps for policy-makers should be to develop mechanisms for (1) re-reviewing effectiveness and cost-effectiveness data for all cancer drugs; (2) making disinvestments in cancer drugs that satisfy requirements relating to grandfathering and compassionate access; (3) ensuring fair and equitable access to cancer drugs for all Canadians; and (4) fostering a pan-Canadian approach to cancer drug funding decisions.

publication date

  • December 2019

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