News release

Nova Scotians to Pay Less for Drugs

Nova Scotians covered by the Pharmacare programs and taxpayers will pay less for the generic form of Lipitor as a result of government's plan to get fair drug prices.

Eight companies that submitted offers to the province's request for proposals to provide atorvastatin, which is used to treat high cholesterol, at a better price have been accepted, and contracts have been signed.

About 20,000 seniors will see savings of up to $145 on the annual cost of brand name Lipitor and $35 on the current price of the generic drug, atorvastatin. The new pricing takes effect on Dec. 1.

"I am very pleased that Nova Scotians who rely on Pharmacare, and taxpayers, will soon pay less for this drug," said Health Minister Maureen MacDonald. "This is an example of how we're doing things differently to make life better and provide better health care for Nova Scotia families.

"We will continue to work with drug companies, pharmacies and our other partners to get the fair drug prices that Nova Scotians deserve."

As part of the agreement, the eight companies will provide atorvastatin at 35 per cent of the cost of Lipitor through Pharmacare programs. The companies can be viewed at www.gov.ns.ca/tenders.

At a cost of $14.7 million, Lipitor accounted for the largest part of the Pharmacare budget in 2009-10.

As a result of these contracts and the generic becoming available at 50 per cent of the cost of the brand drug in August, government will save more than $4 million under Pharmacare this fiscal year over last.

Before the generic drug was available, a Nova Scotia senior paid more than $240 each year through Seniors Pharmacare, based on a prescription for 20 mg Lipitor filled four times a year. Today, the same senior pays close to $130 each year for the same prescription of atorvastatin. As of Dec. 1, they will pay about $95 per year.

The request for proposal for atorvastatin is an interim step to get a better price for this drug while government develops its plan to get fair drug prices. Nova Scotia pays more for generic drugs than several provinces and most developed countries.

The province's spending on drugs has almost doubled in the past eight years. Without measures to contain the growth, drug costs are expected to increase by seven per cent this year over last year, to more than $300 million.

"As a government, we are taking action to contain rapidly growing drug costs. Through this step and our plan to get fair drug prices, we're making the right decisions to bring Nova Scotia back to balance and make sure government lives within its means," said Ms. MacDonald.

For more information on the initiative, visit www.fairdrugprices.gov.ns.ca.

FOR BROADCAST USE:

Nova Scotians covered by the Pharmacare programs and taxpayers will pay less for the generic form of Lipitor, as a result of government's plan to get fair drug prices.

Eight companies will provide atorvastatin, the generic form of Lipitor, which treats high cholesterol, to the province at a better price.

Starting December 1st, Nova Scotians covered through Pharmacare will pay less for the drug.

Health Minister Maureen MacDonald says she is pleased with the results, and hopes to continue to work with drug companies, pharmacies and others to get the fair drug prices Nova Scotians deserve.

This is an interim step to get a better price on this one drug now while government develops its plan to get fair drug prices for Nova Scotians.

For more information on government's work to get fair drug prices, Nova Scotians can go to fair drug prices dot gov dot n-s dot c-a.

-30-

Media Contact:

Kristen Rector
Department of Health 902-424-2727 E-mail: