The Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association (CGPA) says governments need to strengthen domestic generic pharmaceutical manufacturing and work to stabilize international supply chains to secure channels of import for medicines and the inputs needed to produce them. 

The association says generic prescription medicines are dispensed to fill nearly three quarters of all prescriptions in Canada. They add that the industry and the nation’s drug supply need to be put on a more stable footing.

As part of the announcement, the CGPA released a new study, Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Importing/Manufacturing Capacity Study by EY Canada, which reports that global supply chains have become increasingly complex and risky, introducing disruptions and shortages of prescription medicines. They add that the generic market in Canada faces downward pressure on pricing with increasing costs in labour, land, transportation and regulation. “Combined, these elements are increasing the fragility of the domestic industry,” they write.

Since 2019, the number of locally manufactured medicines has declined from 1,062 in 2019 to just 700 in 2021. More, they say almost all active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) used to manufacture generic medicines in Canada are imported with more than 60 per cent of those APIs coming from India and China. All of this, the association says, is affecting the diversity of the medicines that can be produced and provided.

The report’s recommendations include supporting and incentivizing onshore capabilities. It also calls on governments to provide incentives that encourage companies to bring new generic medicines to Canada, provide tax and other incentives to support domestic manufacturing, and negotiate multilateral trade agreements that promote the security of the supply chain and ensure ongoing access to APIs, finished dose products and the elements necessary to support domestic production. It also calls on governments to create a coordinated approach to emergency drug planning going forward.

“International supply chain dependencies may pose great risks to the sustainable supply of generic medicines,” they write. “Beyond the pandemic, there is a need to address these pertinent issues to secure the supply of medicines to Canadians, offer support to domestic generic pharmaceutical companies and prepare for future emergencies.”