Towards Open Science: Promoting Innovation in Pharmaceutical Research and Development and Access to Affordable Medications both in Canada and Abroad. Report of the Standing Committee on Health, November 2018, 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. House of Commons, Canada
(2018; 38 pages)


In Canada and around the world, there is rising concern that innovative drugs produced by pharmaceutical companies are no longer affordable and are placing increasing strain on health care budgets. Policy makers have begun to examine ways that public funding for pharmaceutical research and development could address this issue. On 8 November 2017, the House of Commons adopted Private Members’ Business M-132, which requested that the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health (the Committee) “undertake a study on ways of increasing benefits to the public resulting from federally funded research, with the goals of lowering drug costs and increasing access to medicines, both in Canada and globally.”

On 16 and 18 October 2018, the Committee held two meetings as part of this study and heard from a range of witnesses including health researchers, health research funding organizations, patient groups and civil society organizations. Drawing on witness testimony and written submissions, this report examines the role the federal government can play in fostering pharmaceutical research and development both in Canada and globally to ensure that pharmaceutical drugs are accessible and affordable.

The Committee heard from witnesses that increased federal investments in health research across the continuum from fundamental to clinical research would support the development of new ideas that would lead to the discovery of a greater number of innovative treatments for diseases. Witnesses also suggested that targeted federal investments are needed in the area of clinical trials to bridge the gap between discovery research and translation of discoveries into pharmaceutical drugs for human populations. However, the Committee also heard that it is necessary to ensure that federal funding in pharmaceutical research and development also results in the creation of drugs and technologies that are affordable in Canada and abroad. Witnesses suggested that this goal could be achieved by fostering the creation of innovative models of pharmaceutical research and development that prioritize open science in both the discovery and development of new drugs and the repurposing of existing drugs. Finally, the Committee heard that the federal government needs to develop a strategic framework that identifies priorities for health research funding in the area of pharmaceutical research and development and serves to promote collaboration across governments, universities, health charities and private industry. The Committee agrees with the findings of witnesses and has developed recommendations that it believes will support the transformation of pharmaceutical research and development in Canada.

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