Provinces and territories talk health care

BANFF, AB, Sept. 30, 2014 /CNW/ - Today, Alberta Minister of Health Stephen Mandel chaired a provincial and territorial health ministers meeting in Banff. Ministers identified new areas for provinces and territories to collaborate regarding health care and also shared best practices on health care innovation.   

"Provincial and territorial ministers are committed to working together to deliver quality health care services to all Canadians. Through collaboration on topics such as the Pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance, orphan drugs, newborn screening, flavoured tobacco and e-cigarettes, we can ensure we have sustainable and effective health care systems for future generations."
- Stephen Mandel, Alberta Minister of Health

Health Care Innovation Working Group
Through the leadership of Canada's Premiers, the Health Care Innovation Working Group (HCIWG) has demonstrated that provinces and territories are committed to working together to produce significant results that benefit patients and our health care systems. Ministers welcome Quebec's participation in the HCIWG.

Provincial and territorial ministers discussed the working group's continued efforts in three priority areas – pharmaceuticals, appropriateness of care and seniors' care.

Ministers agreed to establish a new office in Ontario for the Pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance (PCPA).

Provinces and territories are working together to reduce the cost of brand name and generic drugs. Collaborative efforts on pharmaceuticals have resulted in price reductions on 10 generic drugs and 43 brand name drugs. This work results in over $260 million in combined savings annually. The working group will continue to focus on developing a more consistent and formalized process for negotiations and price reductions. Quebec intends to join the PCPA, but legislative modifications are needed first.

Seniors and aging
Provincial and territorial ministers had a productive discussion on seniors and aging. Ministers are engaged on seniors care through the HCIWG and will support efforts of the Council of the Federation's Chair's Initiative on Aging. Provinces and territories are all working to address dementia and will be discussing this important issue with Minister Ambrose.  

Canada Health Infoway
Ministers agree that electronic health records are one of the most transformational innovations in health care in a generation. Provinces and territories are concerned that progress to implement electronic health record infrastructure will be seriously jeopardized without renewal of funding for Canada Health Infoway. Ministers are united in calling for the federal government to renew funding for Canada Health Infoway.

Medical isotopes
Provincial and territorial ministers discussed medical isotopes and their concern with potential supply disruptions following the planned 2016 closure of the Chalk River facility. They welcome the opportunity to discuss this with Minister Ambrose.

There is a vital role for the federal government as a regulator and as the reviewer of the projects to develop alternate isotope sources. This is key for provinces and territories to ensure patient safety and ongoing access to essential diagnostic services.

Orphan drugs for rare diseases
Participating provincial and territorial health ministers discussed the significant challenges they face in providing new drug therapies to treat rare diseases. Orphan drugs are used to treat life-threatening, chronic and seriously debilitating rare diseases and are very costly. 

As growth rates for the worldwide orphan drug market are expected to double that of the overall prescription drug market by 2018, ministers discussed how provincial and territorial drug plans can approach this challenge.

Ministers have established a working group led by Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario. The group will explore how to manage the cost of rare disease drug therapies with evidence-based approaches.

Newborn Screening
An internationally accepted standard of care, newborn screening is an important tool for health systems to improve health outcomes in children. Screening at birth can help to identify and treat disorders before symptoms appear. Health ministers agreed that provincial and territorial officials should continue to develop an evidence-based list of recommended primary newborn conditions for Pan-Canadian use. Quebec participates in the working group in an information sharing capacity.

Flavoured Tobacco / Electronic Cigarettes
Health ministers recognized the importance of continuing to address issues with tobacco products and e-cigarettes, including taking action to address the growing market for e-cigarettes.

Ministers acknowledged yesterday's federal announcement on flavoured tobacco and look forward to continued discussions, specifically on e-cigarettes. They also call on the federal government to develop a regulatory framework for e-cigarettes in collaboration with provinces and territories.

Conclusion
Provincial and territorial ministers look forward to a productive and robust discussion with Minister Ambrose. Tomorrow's federal, provincial and territorial meeting will include discussions on prescription drug abuse, tobacco, drug shortages, Aboriginal health, and the federal Advisory Panel on Healthcare Innovation.

British Columbia will take over as chair of PT Conference of Health Ministers. Health ministers agreed to add mental health and substance use to the agenda of the next provincial and territorial health ministers meeting. Ministers thank Alberta for their guidance and management over the past year and look forward to British Columbia's leadership on this portfolio.

SOURCE: Alberta Public Affairs Bureau

For further information: Media inquiries: Matthew Grant, matthew.s.grant@gov.ab.ca, 780-222-6433, Press Secretary, Alberta Health

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http://www.pab.gov.ab.ca

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