A National pharmacare strategy for Canada

It is alarming that two to three million Canadians say that they did not fill one or more prescriptions in the last year because of affordability issues. More than one million Canadians forgo necessities like food or heat so that they can afford their prescription drugs. To put this into perspective, one million Canadians populate a city the size of Winnipeg. Imagine for a moment, if all the people in Winnipeg could not afford their medication.


The current patchwork of drug coverage has left Canadians at a significant disadvantage as they are  unable to afford the medicines prescribed to them. This is not surprising as Canadians are paying among the highest prices for prescription drugs in the world. This is surprising considering the opportunity to consolidate buying of drugs across provinces in a national buying strategy. The problem is one of inertia and lack of interest in solving the problem. As a result, Canadians pay billions more than they need to for drugs, not counting those who have adverse health events because they lack drug coverage. The questions have to do with government: who will be covered under what circumstances; drugs to be covered; and who will pay for a national program.


Role of a national pharmacare program in widening access for Canadians


A national pharmacare needs to ensure over half the Canadian population has access to the medicines they need. The National Pharmacare strategy needs to give the Government a blueprint on how to implement National Pharmacare within a framework of provincial and territorial jurisdiction in health care. The strategy needs to ensure comparable access to prescription drugs at an affordable cost.


Main barriers to implementation


There are numerous challenges with the design and implementation and how health care is currently delivered in Canada. These challenges are the key questions that the federal government needs to address, especially the cost of drugs. It is important for the model is affordable for Canadians and reduces the barriers that prevent people from accessing prescription medicines.


Role of private payers play in the National Pharmacare strategy


The role of private insurance is one of the factors that the government needs to explore. Private insurers deliver benefits to millions of Canadian workers and their families, however, all Canadians with private insurance do not have the same coverage. Many Canadians struggle to afford their medicines even with private insurance. Some programs have extensive coverage with almost all drugs and no co-pays, while others are restrictive with significant deductibles, co-pays, spending caps and a limited number of insured medications.


Another challenge is offering the widest possible access for those with rare diseases to the medication they need. The lack of coverage for Canadians with rare diseases has resulted in diminished health outcomes.  There needs to be a concerted national strategy to addresses these challenges.



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