Proton pump inhibitors are a group of drugs which are the most clinically effective agents in producing a long-lasting reduction of gastric acid production. PPIs are among the most widely sold drugs in the world, and the first one, omeprazole, launched in 1988, is on the WHO Model List of Essential Medicines.
On October 1, 2016, Alberta government sponsored drug programs introduced Maximum Allowable Cost (MAC) pricing for eligible proton pump inhibitors (PPI) with the MAC price based on the lowest cost PPI.
The purpose of drug benefit programs, especially publically funded programs, is to remove financial barriers to patients allowing them to obtain appropriate medication to maintain or improve their health. This is a major contributor to health status and also reduces the need for other health services.
The proposed program change to using the lowest cost product in a therapeutic category does not meet this objective. The main objective is to help the drug budget – and even that needs to be balanced by the shift of expense to the health system and patient.