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Ministry Status: Routine Monitoring and Engagement

Ontario Public Drug Programs

Glossary – P

This glossary provides brief explanations of terms used in the Ontario Public Drug Programs web pages. To access a term definition, select the appropriate letter from the alphabet below.

P value

The statistical value for the probability that an observed or greater difference occurred by chance, if it is assumed that there is in fact no real difference between the effects of interventions. If this probability is less than 1/20 (which is when the P value is less than 0.05), then the result is conventionally regarded as being "statistically significant".


See pan-Canadian Oncology Drug Review

pan-Canadian Oncology Drug Review

The pan-Canadian Oncology Drug Review (pCODR) assesses cancer drugs and makes recommendations to the provinces and territories to guide their drug funding decisions.

Established in 2010 by the provincial and territorial Ministries of Health, pCODR is designed to bring consistency and clarity to the assessment of new cancer drugs by looking at both clinical evidence and cost-effectiveness.

Patented Medicines Prices Review Board (PMPRB)

A quasi-judicial body that Parliament established in 1987.
Its mandate is:

regulatory, to  ensure that prices manufacturers charge in Canada or patented* drugs are not excessive. That determination is based on a comparison with existing drugs for the same disease, and the median of prices charged in France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The PMPRB does not have the authority to prevent the sale of a patented medicine based on its price or to remove it from the market, but it can order a price reduction; and

reporting, to report on pharmaceutical trends and R&D spending by pharmaceutical patentees.


Pharmacoeconomics is the application of the methods of economic evaluation of health care programs to interventions involving pharmaceutical products.

Pharmacoeconomic review

The critical appraisal of published and unpublished information about costs and consequences of drugs and their impact on individuals, health care systems and society (in other words, value for money of drugs).


The processes (in a living organism) of absorbing, distributing, metabolizing and excreting a drug or vaccine.


The study of drugs, their sources, their nature their properties and their interactions with living organisms.

Pivotal study

A pivotal or crucially important study is judged according to the following criteria, in that it must:

  • be controlled using placebo or a standard therapy;
have a double-blinded design when such a design is practical and ethical; be randomized; and be of adequate size.


An inactive pill, liquid, or powder that has no treatment value, such as sugar and water, given in the control group of a clinical trial. Ideally, placebos are identical in appearance and taste or feel to the experimental treatment and believed to lack any disease specific effects.

Placebo-controlled study

A method of investigating drugs, in which one group of participants receives an inactive substance (the placebo) while another group receives the drug being tested.  The results obtained in the two groups are then compared to see if the investigational treatment is more effective in treating the condition.

Placebo effect

A physical or emotional change, occurring after a substance is taken or administered, that is not the result of any special property of the substance. The change may be beneficial, reflecting the hope of the participant and, often, the expectations of the person administering the substance.


See Patented Medicines Prices Review Board.

Priority review

Preferred status in the review queue and on the CDEC agenda. Provided only to drugs meeting specific criteria.  All steps in the CDR procedure are completed and timelines are not cut short.

Progression-free survival

The length of time from the start of clinical trial randomization until there is progression of a patient’s disease or until death occurs. Progression-free survival is one of the measures used in clinical studies to assess how well a treatment works. Because it only measures the amount of time that the disease does not worsen, an improvement in progression-free survival does not necessarily translate into a prolonged overall survival. (See overall survival.)

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