New paper calling for a national public drug plan for all

Canada wide- Today the Canadian Health Coalition is launching its policy brief “A National Public Drug Plan for All”. Author Julie White brings together many of the academic studies showing the financial savings, improved drug safety, and increased equality that would occur under a national public drug plan.

Canada remains the only country with a universal health system that doesn’t include prescription medicines. “The proposals contained in this paper would bring Canada into the 21st century and align our public health plan with other comparable countries,” says White.

According to Angus Reid poll conducted in 2015, 23% of Canadians did not fill a prescription in the past 12months due to the cost of medicines. “We know that a national public drug plan would be enormously popular with the support of 91% of Canadians” says White.

Last month the Federal Minister of Health, Dr. Jane Philpott made comments to the House of Commons’ Standing Committee on Health that she had no mandate to create a universal pharmacare programme and that “it sounds like it might be expensive…There are public drug plans across the country for people who can’t afford medication.” But as Julie White explains, “the reason why drugs are so expensive in Canada is precisely because we do not have a national public drug plan. We pay far more for drugs because we are unable to negotiate drug prices with the pharmaceutical companies for the whole population, as is done in many other countries.”

Reliable research has shown that on a total cost of $27 billion paid for drugs, we pay up to $11 billion more than we would with a national plan. Meanwhile both provincial plans and private insurance plans are struggling under the high prices and cutting back coverage.

This paper is launched while the House of Commons’ Standing Committee on Health is studying the development of a national pharmacare program and while members of the Canadian Health Coalition are meeting with their MPs in a Canada-wide constituency lobby.

The Canadian Health Coalition is a non-profit, non-partisan, non-governmental organization calling on the Federal government to initiate conversations with the provinces and territories on a national public drug plan.   You will find a copy of the full policy briefing here.

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