Evaluation of common drug review dissemination and use of evidence by drug plans

The cost of publicly funded prescription drug programs in Canada is growing an estimated 15 per cent a year. Studies show drug plan staff have little time to reassess drugs already on the market and are overwhelmed with submissions from pharmaceutical companies seeking approval of new drugs. In September 2001, federal, provincial and territorial Health Ministers launched the Common Drug Review (CDR) to develop a national process for reviewing evidence on new drugs and reducing duplication among provinces. How CDR will integrate with current communication systems to share information between drug plan staff and researchers is not yet clear. Mowafa Househ is assessing how drug plans use and produce evidence within the CDR system, and how virtual networking can improve the exchange of this knowledge. Using web-based conferencing, Mowafa is developing a three-step protocol to improve links between drug plan manager and researchers. He is applying the protocol to three major drug plan issues: assessing new drugs, re-assessing existing drugs, and evaluating the impact of drug policies.