Canada's current patchwork of thousands of private and public prescription plans is not sustainable
OTTAWA, June 12, 2019 /CNW/ - The Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare (the Council) is recommending that Canada implement universal, single-payer, public pharmacare.
The Council recommends the federal government work in partnership with provincial and territorial governments to establish a universal, single-payer public system of prescription drug coverage in Canada to ensure everyone has access to the drugs they need to maintain their physical and mental health. The Council also recommends the establishment of a Canadian drug agency, which would be responsible for developing a national list of prescription drugs (the formulary) beginning with an initial formulary of common or so-called essential medicines by January 1, 2022. The Council recommends that this initial formulary expand to a fully comprehensive formulary, to be in place no later than January 1, 2027.
Universal, single-payer public pharmacare will provide access to prescribed medicines for all Canadians, including the estimated one in five who are either uninsured or underinsured. A national formulary will ensure the same medicines are offered right across Canada. The Council is recommending that pharmacare be portable for Canadians wherever they travel or live within Canada; that there be a separate pathway, with dedicated funding, for expensive drugs for rare diseases; and that the approval process for drugs be further streamlined so Canadians can get faster access to new, innovative drugs.
Universal, single-payer public pharmacare will result in better value for money and substantial savings for governments, businesses, and individual Canadians. Once implemented, pharmacare's stronger negotiating power, lower administrative costs, as well as other improvements will save taxpayers an estimated $5 billion annually. Savings for individual Canadians and their families will be significant and tangible. Canadian families will save, on average, $350 per year. Pharmacare will also provide businesses with much-needed relief from the high and growing cost of prescription drug insurance. The average business owner who provides drug coverage will save over $750 annually per employee. The Council recommends that Canadians and employers continue to be able to purchase private drug insurance as a form of supplementary insurance to national pharmacare.
The Council heard from thousands of Canadians and found a strongly shared belief that everyone in Canada should have access to prescription drugs based on their need and not their ability to pay, in a manner that is fair and sustainable.
The delivery of the report marks the completion of the Council's mandate. It is the product of discussions with Canadians, provincial and territorial governments, Indigenous governments and representative organizations, patients, labour, business, industry and other experts in relevant fields.
"The time for universal, single-payer public pharmacare has come. This is our generation's national project: better access to the medicines we need, improved health outcomes, and a fairer and more sustainable prescription medicine system. Let's complete the unfinished business of universal health care. That can be our promise, and our legacy, to each other and to all future generations."
Dr. Eric Hoskins
Chair, Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare
- Canadians spent $34 billion on prescription medicines in 2018.
- On a per capita basis, only the United States and Switzerland spend more on medicines.
- One in five Canadians struggle to pay for their prescription medicines. Three million don't fill their prescriptions because they can't afford to. One million Canadians cut spending on food and heat to be able to afford their medicine.
- Canada is the only country in the world with universal health care that does not provide universal coverage for prescription drugs.
- The federal government created the Council to provide independent advice on how to best implement national pharmacare in a manner that is affordable for Canadians and their families, employers and governments.
- Over the past 12 months, the Council studied Canadian and international models of pharmacare. Over 32,000 individuals and organizations shared their views through online interactions, letters, written submissions and meetings held across Canada.
- The Council travelled to every province and territory and held in-person discussions through roundtables, meetings and community dialogue sessions. The Council also held discussions with stakeholders, provinces and territories and Indigenous governments and representative organizations.
- A summary of what the Council heard throughout their national dialogue is available online.
Statement from the Government of Canada on the Final Report from the Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare
Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare
Interim report from the Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare
What We Heard Report
Final Report of the Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare
SOURCE Health Canada
For further information: Media Relations, Health Canada, 613-957-2983, [email protected]