MEDIA ADVISORY: National patient coalition urges policies to address drug access issues

TORONTO, April 15 /CNW/ - With the federal election campaign well underway, the Best Medicines Coalition urges political leaders to engage in focused discussions on healthcare, specifically policy solutions to address critical drug access issues throughout the country. The Best Medicines Coalition, an alliance of patient organizations and individual patient advocates, believes that the current situation in which many Canadians face significant financial burden to get necessary drugs must be addressed nationally, a position on which it is aligned with various patient organizations and others involved in the healthcare system.

"When it comes to drug access, Canada's current system is a patchwork which is definitely inequitable and certainly does not contribute to positive health outcomes. Many Canadians do not qualify for public drug programs and do not have private coverage so when they are hit with illness and need extensive medicines, they face incredible financial hardship or they have to forgo treatment," said Dr. Kathy Kovacs Burns, an active patient advocate and member of the Best Medicines Coalition. Dr. Kovacs Burns is at the University of Alberta's Health Sciences Council.

Programs which ensure that all are able to access needed drug treatments are referred to as universal drug coverage plans or, when costs become significant, as catastrophic drug programs. At a Best Medicines Coalition meeting in late 2010, members who were gathered discussed various principles and identified some basic elements which are important to the development of an effective catastrophic drug program for Canada.

It was agreed that programs need to focus on the unreasonable financial burdens which individuals face when they are not a part of public or private drug coverage plans or these plans are insufficient to cover all prescription drug costs. In addition, there should be no limits on types of illnesses considered, and effective catastrophic drug coverage programs must be general and inclusive of any chronic, episodic or acute condition regardless of incidence. It was identified by Best Medicines Coalition members that many patient communities are being faced with huge unaffordable drug costs and have to go into savings, often retirement savings, and so a national catastrophic drug program is a major priority.

Formed in 2002, the Best Medicines Coalition (www.bestmedicines.ca) is a national, broad-based alliance of patient organizations and individuals involved in issues related to pharmaceutical reviews and safety monitoring, treatment access and general health policy development.

SOURCE Best Medicines Coalition

For further information:

Paulette Eddy, paulette@bestmedicine.ca, 416-917-3338

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Best Medicines Coalition

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