The federal government says it is making changes that will better protect Canadians from excessive drug prices and make patented medicines more affordable.

Health Canada is unveiling long-awaited changes to patented medicine regulations.

Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor bills the move as the biggest step to lower drug prices in a generation.

The amendments include allowing what’s known as the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board to consider whether the price of a drug reflects the value it has for patients.

The change also includes adjusting the list of countries Canada uses to compare itself when setting drug prices, so that prices are judged against countries that look like Canada in terms of population, economy and approach to health care.

It comes as a new poll shows finds that a significant number of Canadians over the age of 55 are struggling to afford the cost of prescription medications.

The Angus Reid survey shows that 21% of older Canadians face major access issues and 10% say they have not filled a prescription for medicine in the past year because of the cost.

Health Canada says Canadians pay among the highest patented drug prices in the world, after only the United States and Switzerland.

It says the amendments will save Canadians approximately $13 billion over 10 years on patented drug costs.

with files from Canadian Press