The Government of Canada Announces the Creation of the Canadian Drug Agency

December 18, 2023 | Ottawa, Ontario | Health Canada

Helping make Canada's drug system more sustainable and better prepared for the future

Canadians should be able to appropriately access and afford the prescription drugs they need. However, many Canadians are left vulnerable due to high drug costs, inaccessible health data, and the lack of consistent standards for prescribing practices.

To better understand these challenges, the Canadian Drug Agency Transition Office (CDATO) consulted extensively with provinces, territories (PTs) and key stakeholders to identify core gaps in the pharmaceutical system.

Today, as the next step in improving the pharmaceutical system in Canada, the Honourable Mark Holland, Minister of Health, announced the creation of the Canadian Drug Agency (CDA). The CDA will provide the dedicated leadership and coordination needed to make Canada's drug system more sustainable and better prepared for the future, helping Canadians achieve better health outcomes.

The CDA will be built from the existing Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (CADTH) and in partnership with provinces and territories (PTs). The Government of Canada is investing $89.5 million over five years to establish the CDA, in addition to the existing federal funding of $34.2 million annually to support CADTH.

The CDA will incorporate and expand on CADTH's expertise in the pharmaceutical sector, including its strong leadership and technical proficiency. The CDA will build on CADTH's existing mandate and functions (health technology assessment, post-market safety and effectiveness) and expand them to include new work streams including:

  • Improving the appropriate prescribing and use of medications, for better patient health and to support system sustainability;
  • Increasing pan-Canadian data collection and expanding access to drug and treatment data, including real-world evidence data, to better support patients, inform health decisions and enable robust system data analytics; and
  • Reducing drug system duplication and lack of coordination that causes expensive inefficiencies and pressures.

The Government will work with CADTH and PTs to develop the CDA. Once the CDA is operational, it will take on a greater role in the drug system to ensure Canadians can have better health outcomes and access the medications they need now and into the future.

Quotes

"There are too many barriers to accessing the prescription drugs Canadians need. At the same time, many Canadians are suffering from being overprescribed medicines that impact both their health and their wallet. The establishment of the Canadian Drug Agency is an important step in supporting the long-term sustainability of Canada's drug system, improving data quality, and ultimately helping Canadians improve their quality of life and overall health."

The Honourable Mark Holland
Minister of Health

"We have made significant progress towards building the CDA in the past two and a half years. I would like to thank those who have participated in the engagements to date for their thoughtful advice on the establishment of a CDA. We want to ensure the CDA reflects diverse insights and needs, including the perspectives of patients and people with lived experience."

Susan Fitzpatrick
Head, Canadian Drug Agency Transition Office

Quick facts

  • Budget 2019 also provided $35 million over four years, to Health Canada to establish a Canadian Drug Agency Transition Office (CDATO) to work with provinces and territories, and other partners to develop a vision and mandate for the CDA. The CDATO was formally established in 2021 to advance this work.
  • In March 2023, the CDATO launched an Advisory Committee of diverse health partners to provide advice and recommendations for a pan-Canadian strategy for the appropriate use of medications and CDA functions within that strategy. In July 2023, the Committee issued its interim report with recommendations on the pillars of a national appropriate use strategy, and key components of a CDA appropriate use program.
  • The creation of the CDA further builds on other recent progress made by the federal government towards a national pharmacare program, such as the Improving Affordable Access to Prescriptions Drugs initiative, which has saved PEI residents over $1.7 million in out-of-pocket costs on more than 195,000 prescriptions.
  • In addition, the Government of Canada announced in March 2023 measures in support of the first-ever National Strategy for Drugs for Rare Diseases, with an investment of up to $1.5 billion over three years. Through this, the Government will help increase access to, and affordability of, effective drugs for rare diseases to improve the health of patients across Canada, including children.

Associated links

Contacts

Christopher Aoun 
Press Secretary 
Office of the Honourable Mark Holland 
Minister of Health 
613-291-4176

Media Relations
Health Canada and Public Health Agency of Canada
613-957-2983
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