Sandoz: We won't hike prices in Canada during shortage

Sandoz is assuring Canadians that it doesn't view the current drug shortage in that country as an opportunity to hike prices on its meds. The Novartis ($NVS) unit has been at the center of the shortage, particularly after one of its plants had to reduce production because of GMP issues.

The problem-plagued Boucherville, Quebec, facility, which was the site of a recent fire, is the only supplier of more than 140 generic injectable drugs and serves as a major source for Canadian hospitals. Unfortunately for patients, problems at the site have led to hospitals delaying procedures.

Still, Sandoz is promising to honor pricing under existing hospital contracts. "Sandoz and Novartis do not view the current supply situation in Canada as an opportunity to increase our profits," company spokeswoman Marija Mandic said, as quoted by the Ottawa Citizen.

In a statement, Sandoz says it is continuing efforts started late last year to maintain a reliable supply of essential medicines following the production slowdown at Boucherville. It has filed submissions with Health Canada for 15 product families and will still seek alternatives.

Sandoz's plants outside Canada represent the biggest group seeking Health Canada's permission to provide hard-to-obtain meds. But some experts have cautioned that any company getting a regulatory blessing as a new supplier could jack up prices. And, as sister pub FiercePharmaManufacturing reported yesterday, this fear has prompted debate over how Canadian regulators should handle future drug shortages.

However, Mandic said that if the company's foreign subsidiaries do get regulatory permission to supply the drugs, Sandoz would cover any extra costs related to production and importation.

She declined to comment on whether Sandoz would cover costs incurred by hospitals, pharmacies and others as a result of the Boucherville production slowdown, according to the Ottawa Citizen.

- see the Sandoz release
- check out more from the Ottawa Citizen