Should Canada adopt managed access agreements in Canada for expensive drugs?

Melanie McPhail, Tania Bubela

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Drugs are increasingly authorized based on less mature evidence, leaving payors faced with significant clinical and cost-effectiveness uncertainties. As a result, payors must often choose between reimbursing a drug that may not turn out to be cost-effective (or may even be unsafe) or delaying the reimbursement of a drug that is cost-effective and offers clinical benefit to patients. Novel reimbursement decision models and frameworks, such as managed access agreements (MAAs), may address this decision challenge. Here, we provide a comprehensive overview of the legal limitations, considerations, and implications for adopting MAAs in Canadian jurisdictions. We begin with an overview of current drug reimbursement processes in Canada, terminology and definitions of the different types of MAAs, and select international experiences with MAAs. We discuss the legal barriers to MAA governance frameworks, design and implementation considerations, and legal and policy implications of MAAs. Finally, we provide recommendations to guide policy development for implementing MAAs in Canada, based on existing literature, international experience, and our legal analysis. We conclude that legal and policy barriers likely prevent the adoption of a pan-Canadian MAA governance framework. More feasible is a quasi-federal or provincial approach, building on existing infrastructure.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberlsad014
JournalJournal of Law and the Biosciences
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • drug regulation
  • drug reimbursement
  • expensive drugs
  • health policy
  • health technology assessment
  • managed access agreement


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