What is Tendering?

In an effort to contain costs, governments have begun to implement tendering processes for acquiring medications to be listed on public drug plans.

Tendering is a process in which government, as payer, negotiates the lowest price for a pharmaceutical drug1. In exchange for this low price, the supplier of the drug gets their product listed on the public drug plan. Often, the lowest bidder becomes the sole tender meaning their drug is the only one available in an entire class of drugs (such as statins) to patients on the public drug plan2.

Sole product tendering is particularly problematic for patients when it is done across a class of drugs as it results in a form of therapeutic substitution. In these cases, patients are forced to switch from the drug prescribed by their doctor to another drug that is chemically different from the one they were prescribed. In some cases, patients have been forced to switch numerous times as governments re-negotiate their contracts and award different companies sole tender3.

Here are some of the Better Pharmacare Coalition's serious concerns about the impact of tendering on the health of BC patients and the health system:

Better Pharmacare Coalition position:

  1. LeLorier, J. (2007). "Lessons for a national pharmaceuticals strategy in Canada from Australia and New Zealand" in Health Outcomes and Public Policy, Vol 23(9): 711-718.
  2. Ibid
  3. Begg et al. (2003) "Sorry saga of statins in New Zealand" in NZMA, Vol. 116(1170)
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