Pangaea Express: Pricing Transparency in Quebec

May 1, 2018

By Ghislain Gauthier

Can Transparency Trump an NDA? Seems that it can, at least in Quebec.

In 2015, researcher Jean-Christophe Beaisle-Pipon made a request of the Quebec Access to Information Commission seeking the price paid by the Quebec government for a dose of Bexsero (meningococcal) vaccine (GSK). According to a CBC article, Beaisle-Pipon, a bioethicist, was evaluating the effectiveness of a vaccination campaign in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region, the first such campaign in the world. For the pharma industry, this price is protected information as agreed under a Non-disclosure Agreement (NDA) with the payer. For the bioethicist, this information was critical to the assessment of the merit of the vaccine intervention.

While sections (23, 24) of the Access to Information Act protect third party (in this case GSK) “secrets”, requiring their consent prior to release, this court decision ruled in favour of some measure of transparency. The findings state, “The price that a public body agrees to pay and the services that will be provided to it in exchange cannot qualify as "information provided by a third party" and further, “for the commercial partners of public bodies, they must expect a degree of transparency in their relations with them. It is the concession to be made to be able to contract with the State”.

The PMPRB modernization has price transparency on the table. So does the World Health Organization. It begins to appear that NDA or not, in the era of value-based pricing, private pricing arrangements may be public after all.

What then? Would such deals be off the table? Without reform of global pricing methodology, this could put the Canadian market at serious risk.

For more information, please contact Ghislain Gauthier, Director, The Pangaea Group.