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Quebec Launches New Drug Review Agency

Québec’s Health Minister Yves Bolduc has launched an institute that will evaluate the clinical benefits and costs of technologies, medications, and interventions and develop recommendations and clinical guidelines. The institute will also determine criteria used to evaluate performance and make recommendations to the Ministry. Such recommendations will be used to weigh the costs and benefits of adding new drugs to the list of those covered under Quebec’s public health care.

The new agency, the National Institute for Excellence in Health and Social Services/Institut national d’excellence en santé et en services sociaux, or INESSS, will replace two existing government bodies, the Drug Council/Conseil de medicament and the Agency for Health Technology Assessment and Invention Methods/Agence d’evaluation des technologies et des modes d’intervention en santé (AETMIS).

The institute is modeled after the United Kingdom’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), which in partnership with Britain’s National Health Service, provides guidance, sets quality standards, and maintains a national database with up-to-date evidence of effectiveness and examples of best practice. Going a step further than NICE, INESSS will include social services as well as health as a part of its mandate.

INESSS’ inaugural CEO will be Dr. Juan Roberto Iglesias, who will operate with a $12.5 million annual budget. Dr. Iglesias was previously president and CEO of AETMIS, Deputy Health Minister, President of the Medical Council of Québec, and Vice-Dean at the University of Sherbrooke Faculty of Medicine. Dr. Iglesias’ stated goal is to provide reasonable access to new products without offering an “open bar” if other available drugs or technologies can perform just as well.


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