Director of Canada’s drug price regulator resigns same week as colleague steps down

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The executive director of Canada’s drug pricing regulator is stepping down — just days after another member resigned because of concerns that the federal government was undermining the independent body’s work.

Douglas Clark, with the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board, announced Friday he would be leaving his post after almost a decade with the regulator that oversees the prices 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 important reforms that would lower the cost of medication.

“The 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 no longer believed it was possible to serve the public good in his role, which he had held since 2018.

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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 calling for an investigation into Duclos’ alleged involvement in delaying drug reforms that would save Canadians money. Davies said in a statement 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 completely unacceptable.”

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Clark has agreed to remain with the board as a special adviser for an unspecified amount of time, and the board said work to appoint Clark’s successor would be launched soon.

“People may come and go but the commitment of staff at the (regulator) to the very highest ideals of public service is unwavering and will endure,” Clark said in a statement.

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The Patented Medicine Prices Review Board declined to comment, and Health Canada did not immediately respond to questions.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2023.

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