Nurses unions offer a roadmap to a rational Pharmacare policy

NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE, ON, July 25, 2013 /CNW/ - With the current Canada Health Accord set to expire in 2014, the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU) President Linda Silas is urging premiers to work with the federal government to create a universal Pharmacare program.

At the Council of the Federation meeting in 2004, premiers committed to the creation of a national Pharmacare plan. There has been no action to create a plan since.  Silas urges us to recall that "…each year, we lose billions by not moving forward with this long-promised program, and more importantly, millions of Canadians go without adequate access to medically required medications."

"As Ottawa continues unloading costs to the provinces, stretching their budgets, expanding cooperation on cost-effective measures like bulk-purchasing of drugs makes for good fiscal and public policy," said Silas.

According to researchers Dr. Marc-André Gagnon and Dr. Steve Morgan, Canada is the only OECD country with universal public health care that does not also have a Pharmacare plan.

Dr. Morgan highlighted the fact that "…every developed country with a universal health care system, except Canada, provides universal coverage of drugs, and all such countries provide universal coverage of prescription drugs at less cost than Canada spends today!"

Dr. Gagnon stated that when it comes to prescription drugs, Canada's current system is plagued by "massive waste, excessive costs, and leaves too many people unable to afford their medicine."

He further noted that a universal Pharmacare program is not a panacea but it can help to build the institutional capacity to improve access, diminish costs, improve practices and ensure sustainability. Gagnon's forthcoming report provides a roadmap toward a rational Pharmacare policy in Canada, in which he acknowledges that the recent adoption of bulk purchasing agreements is a positive first step in controlling costs, but more needs to be done, including improving equitable access for all Canadians by establishing a national formulary, which will also help to enhance the safety and security of medications.

Silas urged the Premiers to build on their success from last year's Council of the Federation and press the federal government for a Pharmacare program. Even the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association has endorsed the need for a more rational approach to drug coverage. "Now is the time for all our political leaders  to be bold and take the necessary steps that will provide Canadians with access to drugs based on their medical needs not on where they live or work."

SOURCE: Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions

For further information:

Anil Naidoo: 613-996-5409

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