Federal analysis suggests concern over shift to cheaper drugs under national pharmacare plan

An internal federal analysis shows officials in Ottawa were concerned a broad shift to cheaper generic drugs under a national pharmacare plan might encourage brand-name drug companies to scale back research funding and delay the introduction of new medicine.

The concerns were included last year in a briefing document for federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau that explored the feasibility and costs of Canada-wide pharmacare.

Pharmacare is shaping up as a key campaign issue in the October election, and the Liberals are saying they hope to lower costs and improve Canadians' access to prescription drugs.

The Finance Department's analysis was created a few days before Morneau's 2018 budget officially launched an advisory group on national pharmacare.

The document says more information is needed to fully understand how national pharmacare would affect drug spending in Canada, but it warns some pharmaceutical firms could put off the introduction of new drugs and cut back on research and development activities.

The analysis, labelled ``secret,'' was obtained by The Canadian Press under access-to-information law.