Tomorrow Cant Wait

Understanding the value of breakthrough cancer treatments for Canadians

Cancer is the leading cause of death in Canada.

Promising breakthrough cancer treatments are starting to make a difference—but only when patients can access them. There are many existing gaps in patient access that have led to lost economic value and, for Canadians facing cancer, lost tomorrows. To improve timely access to breakthrough cancer treatments regulatory changes need to be made today—because tomorrow can’t wait.

For more detailed information on the value of breakthrough cancer treatments in Canada:

Why Change Needs to Happen Today

Breakthrough cancer therapies across five tumour types have contributed to the health of Canadians diagnosed with melanoma, multiple myeloma, breast cancer, lung cancer, and prostate cancer since 2011. Thanks to these treatments, patients have seen tremendous improvements in survivorship. Although Canada does well when it comes to quickly approving breakthrough treatments for use, complex price-payment negotiations have made the process slow and difficult to complete. As a result, doctors are seeing delayed access for their patients through provincial or territorial plans. As 1 in 2 Canadians are expected to be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, the everyday impact of cancer is not to be underestimated. There is profound value in life years gained by patients, as well as contributions to the Canadian economy.

Canada’s Existing Approach

Timely Approvals

Many breakthrough cancer therapies have received timely approval by Canada’s regulatory agency and health technology agencies over the past ten years.

An Ecosystem of Innovation

Scientific advancements have significantly improved patient outcomes thanks to discoveries that target cancer at the cellular genetic level. Innovation in cancer care is well mobilized, with many new discoveries on the horizon.

226,445 Potential Life Years Gained

Thousands of Canadians have been able to access breakthrough cancer therapies, helping them experience new tomorrows. But there is a gap in access. If Canadians living with cancer had been able to access breakthrough cancer treatments in the last decade, the potential cumulative benefits would have been up to 226,445 life years gained (the additional number of years of life that a person lives from receiving treatment) and $5.9 billion in potential economic value across five tumour types.

Canada’s Unique Challenges

Accessibility Delays

While breakthrough treatments have significantly improved patient outcomes, many patients in Canada are unable to access these innovations. The pace in which breakthrough therapies are being created requires health care systems to adapt and evolve to keep up.

Strains on the Heath Care System

Canada’s health systems face many challenges, including the ongoing COVID‑19 pandemic.

The anticipated backlog in cancer diagnoses and care resulting from Canada’s health systems’ pandemic-response strategies compels all stakeholders to act today.

Intra-Provincial Gaps

Pharmaceutical coverage of breakthrough cancer treatments, approach to cancer care, and access to diagnostic services vary significantly between (and within) provinces.

Delivering the Promise of Tomorrow

Canada’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has proven that our health care systems can work together effectively to find and implement solutions to big problems. Four strategies were identified as critical to improving timely access to breakthrough cancer treatments:

Adapt the Existing Health Technology Assessment (HTA) and Price Negotiation Pathways for Rapid Uptake of Breakthrough Therapies

By adapting the existing pathways, breakthrough therapies can be made available to patients while price negotiations are under way. Current pathways for regulatory approvals and reimbursements need to work in an aligned and timely manner.

Funding Reform

Canada needs to change the way that breakthrough therapies are funded to advance value-based care and risk sharing agreements. Many other countries around the world have risk-sharing models such as managed entry and outcome-based agreements to deal with the uncertainty associated with the long-term value of breakthrough therapies in achieving patient outcomes.

Diagnostic Testing Reform

Canada needs to create national strategies and standards that enable
and fund access to diagnostic services when breakthrough therapies
are approved. National standards and inter-provincial collaboration for diagnostics testing would establish consistent processes for technology appraisal and reimbursement that provinces and territories can adapt
and adopt.

Expand and Integrate Health Data Systems and Infrastructure

Canada requires improved health systems data so patient outcomes,
real-world evidence, and new funding models can be monitored. Better
and more timely data are needed to support long-term health system planning, evaluation, and implementation of risk-sharing models for new breakthrough treatments.

Download the Technical Report

Canada’s health care systems face an immense opportunity to evolve by providing timely access to life-changing breakthrough treatments in cancer care. To learn more,

What Canada’s Health Care Professionals Have to Say

This research was made possible through the financial support of: Abbvie, Amgen, Astellas, AstraZeneca, Bayer, BIOTECanada, BMS, Eli Lilly, Gilead Sciences, GlaxoSmithKline, Innovative Medicines Canada (IMC), Ipsen, Janssen, Merck, Novartis, Roche, Servier, and Takeda.

The responsibility for the findings and conclusions of this research rests entirely with The Conference Board of Canada.