Future Physicians call for Federal Interest in Pharmacare

OTTAWA, Nov. 24, 2014 /CNW/ - The Canadian Federation of Medical Students (CFMS) is bringing tomorrow's physicians to Parliament Hill for its annual Lobby Day. Medical students from Vancouver to St. John's will meet with Members of Parliament and Senators to bring the possibility of a cost-effective universal Pharmacare system to the forefront of federal attention.

Canada is the only developed nation with universal health care but no universal coverage for prescription medications. The result of this omission has been a costly patchwork system in which Canadians spend more per capita on medications than almost every other nation within the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Medication prices in Canada are amongst the highest in the world.

Despite these high costs, Canada does not have an effective pharmaceutical system. According to a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal in 2012, approximately 1 in 10 Canadians cannot afford their prescribed medications. The inability to follow-through on treatment plans jeopardizes the health of Canadian patients and is out of keeping with the principles of Canada's universal health care system.

Concerns about the financial feasibility of a universal Pharmacare system are frequently noted. However, Canadian health policy experts have suggested that a national Pharmacare system may actually decrease costs through increased purchasing power leading to less expensive medications and reduced administrative expenses. A recent analysis from Ottawa-based policy expert Marc-Andre Gagnon published by the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions suggested a universal, first-payer Pharmacare system could save Canada up to $11.4 billion per year.

The Canadian Federation of Medical Students recognizes meaningful changes to Canada's pharmaceutical system require thoughtful analysis and planning to make the best use of limited resources. Therefore, the CFMS proposes the creation of a federal Task Force or Special Committee to review the existing pharmaceutical system and outline steps towards the development of a universal Pharmacare system that corrects current financial inefficiencies while ensuring Canadians have equal access to necessary medications as part of a truly universal health care system.

"CFMS Annual Lobby Day provides an opportunity for medical students from across the country to come together and meet with Parliamentarians. Through these meetings, Canada's next generation of physicians are advocating for improvements to our health care system, as we work towards serving patients and society."
Bryce Durafourt, CFMS President

"The current Canadian pharmaceutical system is financially inefficient and socially inequitable. We cannot claim to have a truly universal health care system if medications required for the treatment of patients' illnesses are inaccessible. The CFMS looks forward to working with Parliamentarians to explore the possibility of cost-effective Pharmacare. Together, we can work towards ensuring patients can obtain the medications they need to maintain their health."
Melanie Bechard, CFMS Vice-President Government Affairs

"Currently, one in ten Canadians can't afford to fill their prescriptions, leading to poor health outcomes and widespread inequities. A comprehensive national Pharmacare program can ensure that all Canadians have access to life-saving therapies and reduce the demands on the public health care system. With potential savings of more than $10 billion per year, it makes good economic sense."
Chris Charles, CFMS Vice-President Global Health

The Canadian Federation of Medical Students (CFMS) is a national organization that represents over 8000 medical students at 14 medical schools across Canada.


SOURCE: Canadian Federation of Medical Students (CFMS)

For further information: Anthea Girdwood, Vice President Communications, Canadian Federation of Medical Students, Cell: (613) 915-1141, vpcommunications@cfms.org

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