CIHR Grant Successes

July 2016: CHSPR faculty member Michael Law has been awarded a Foundation Grant for his project Improving Access to Medicines in Canada and Abroad. This 7-year, $2.3 million grant will support Dr. Law’s work on access to medicines, drug insurance, and drug prices.

Abstract: Most Canadians are proud that their health care system provides services on the basis of need rather than ability to pay. Yet Canadians spend billions of dollars out of their own pockets every year for one of the most commonly used and important forms of health care: prescription drugs. For 1 in 10 Canadians, these costs mean they do not take their prescriptions. Dr. Michael Law studies the impact of these out-of-pocket patient costs as well as government policies on the access to and use of prescription drugs. Dr. Law has published in several leading medical journals, and has been featured in news media such as, the Globe & Mail, CBC’s The National, Forbes, and the New York Times. He has also authored commentaries in the Toronto Star and Vancouver Sun. His research has led directly to several policy changes. For example, his work on generic drug pricing led to Pan-Canadian changes that have saved Canadians more than $100 million each year. Since his appointment at UBC, he has received several notable awards, including the Labelle Lectureship at McMaster University, a Distinguished Achievement Award from the UBC Faculty of Medicine, and the Paper of the Year Award from CIHR’s Institute for Health Services and Policy Research. Prior to joining UBC, he completed a PhD in Health Policy at Harvard University. His research in this proposed CIHR-funded program includes studies on the affordability of prescription drugs, the impact of drug plan deductibles, evaluations of policy changes enacted by governments, and the impact of changes in HIV treatment regimes. His work will focus on both domestic issues in Canada and similar issues in international settings. For example, this year he is working in Rwanda as a visiting professor at Harvard Medical School. The results of Dr. Law’s work will help people receive the effective medicines they need at a reasonable cost, in Canada and abroad.

CHSPR faculty member Kim McGrail has been awarded a 3-year, $400,000 Project Grant for her project Filling the Void: Public Engagement Around a New Model for Access to Research Resources.

Abstract: Canada has a long history of innovative and privacy-sensitive use of data for research. Current policies, however, have been criticized for being slow and complicated, and more importantly have not kept up with changes in data, technology, researcher desires, and public expectations. One important development is the use of tissues, blood and other specimens taken from individuals, including children, and in particular the linkage of that information to other existing data.¿The public has had little role in creating the rules around use of these linked data and specimens for research. This is an important missing piece, because privacy legislation enables research that is for the public good, but nowhere is “public good” defined. Perhaps the public’s negative reaction to announcements about new uses of data in the UK should then not be such a surprise; what is legally allowed is not always acceptable to the public. The goal of this program of research is to engage citizens deliberatively, give them information about data access, use of specimens in research and protection of privacy, and ask them to discuss the issues that matter to them and provide advice. The research questions we will address include: What policy advice about access to data and specimens does the public provide? What rules of access do they recommend? Do deliberative participants question or change their decisions over time? And can an ongoing group of citizens have meaningful influence on operations of a data access system? Our team includes people with expertise in research, ethics, public deliberation, social psychology, policy development and use of specimens for research. Our findings will be applied in BC and relevant to other places as well.

Drs. Law and McGrail are also co-investigators on a funded grant led by Dr. Mark Harrison entitled A Population-based Analysis of Multi-disciplinary Rheumatology Nursing Care for People with Complex Rheumatic Diseases.

Congratulations also to all other award recipients, including CHSPR Faculty Sabrina Wong as a co-investigator on a University of Manitoba grant led by Dr. Josée Lavoie entitled Qanuinngitsiarutiksait: Developing Population-Based Health and Well-Being Strategies for Inuit in Manitoba.

More information is available from CIHR.