Quebec moves to cut generic drug prices

The Quebec government is launching a initiative to reduce the price it pays for generic drugs.

La Presse says Health Minister Gaétan Barrette is going to be issuing a series of calls for tenders for the government's Prescription Drug Insurance Plan.

At the same time Barrette will ask the federal Competition Bureau to closely monitor generic drug prices.

The Quebec program currently pays $800 annually for generic drugs.

Barrette is hoping to reduce costs by as much as 40%.

The Health Minister has been trying to negotiate a price package with pharmaceutical companies for the past year but the talks failed to produce an agreement.

The Couillard government passed Bill 81 last year which allows the government to issue a call for tenders when negotiations fail.

Generic drug makers have argued that Quebec benefits from the lowest prices in Canada, but the Health Ministry says prices in this country are much higher than elsewhere in the world.