Future Physicians Call for Federal Interest in Pharmacare

OTTAWA, Feb. 22, 2016 /CNW Telbec/ - 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 to bring the possibility of a cost-effective universal pharmacare system to the forefront of federal attention for a second time.

Canada is known to be the only developed nation with universal health care and no corresponding universal pharmaceutical coverage. 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 could not 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, A wealth of research has suggested a national pharmacare plan can address our financial inefficiencies and health inequities. When accounting for competitive pricing from bulk purchasing, reduced tax deductions, and other improvements, the estimated savings increase to approximately $11 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 establishment of a concrete plan and corresponding timeline for the exploration of how to create a national formulary, as a first step towards a national pharmacare program as well as continued collaboration with provinces and various stakeholder groups to improve access to pharmaceutical care for all Canadians. 


"Physicians play an important role as healthcare advocates, serving their patients and all Canadians by seeking out ways to deliver the best possible care at a local, provincial and national systems level. Lobby Day provides medical students with an opportunity to speak to Canada's decision-makers about important issues in health and to see the ways in which advocacy can turn into action."
Anthea Lafreniere, CFMS President

"The CFMS is eager to discuss strategies to improve pharmaceutical coverage for all Canadians. Access to Medicines has been a priority for our organization for some time and we are encouraged to see federal interest in the matter. While the announcement that the federal government will be joining the pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance is an important first step, we as future physicians believe that only truly universal pharmaceutical coverage will help alleviate the health and financial inequities that our patients are facing across the country. "
Jessica Harris, CFMS Vice-President Government Affairs

"The issue of access to medicines lies at the forefront of health and human rights in Canada. We have many reasons to be proud of our healthcare system, but so long as key medications remain unaffordable for many Canadians, we can't honestly say that we have just and equitable health policy. We are looking forward to the opportunity to engage with policymakers and move together towards a healthier, fairer Canada for all of us."
Koray Demir, CFMS National Officer of Human Rights and Peace

"The CFMS Global Health Program truly values the unique opportunities afforded to medical students through the Annual CFMS Lobby Day. As future health care providers, we hope to work with the new government and parliamentarians towards more effective and equitable health care for all Canadians."
Golden Gao, 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: Carl White Ulysse, Executive Vice-President and Vice-President Communications, Canadian Federation of Medical Students, Cell: (514) 946-5880, vpcommunications@cfms.org

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