Urgent need to reform Canada's prescription drug coverage system

TORONTO, June 25, 2013 /CNW/ - The prescription drug coverage system in Canada is clearly in need of a major overhaul, with unequal pricing, rising costs and a patchwork of drug coverage offered to Canadians.  If action is not taken soon, it will not be around for future generations.

"There is no question that the prescription drug system that exists today is badly in need of reform," said Frank Swedlove, President of the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association (CLHIA). "The current patchwork of systems across the country inflates costs, creates a great deal of confusion, and even worse, results in significant financial hardship for some Canadians with respect to the cost of drugs."

Today, the CLHIA released a public policy paper -- Ensuring the Accessibility, Affordability and Sustainability of Prescription Drugs in Canada -- setting out actionable recommendations for reform. As a priority, the CLHIA recommends that:

  • the federal agency that regulates prices for new drugs be fundamentally reformed to drive prices down;
  • discussions start on creating a common, national, minimum list of drugs that will be covered for all Canadians; and
  • governments lead a discussion to work towards the creation of a new, collaborative, approach to approving and paying for very rare orphan drugs.

"We need to get the conversation started and believe that our recommendations will result in lower costs and improved access to prescription drugs for all Canadians" noted Swedlove.  "Employers and individual Canadians should expect nothing less."

Canadians want equity

More than 90 per cent of Canadians want the government to make sure that Canadians pay the lowest possible price for prescription drugs, according to a poll by Leger Marketing on behalf of the CLHIA. The poll also found that 81 per cent of Canadians say there should be one price for a prescription drug regardless of whether they have public or private coverage, or are paying out of their own pockets.

The CLHIA looks forward to engaging with governments and stakeholders to discuss constructive reform to prescription drug coverage in Canada.

About the CLHIA

The CLHIA is a voluntary association whose member companies account for 99 per cent of Canada's life and health insurance business. The industry is the principal provider in Canada of individual and group supplementary health benefit products and services and plays a significant role in wellness, disease prevention and in supporting recovery.

About the Survey

A survey of 1,500 Canadians was completed online between June 3 and June 5, 2013 using Leger Marketing's online panel. A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of +/- 2.5 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

SOURCE: Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association Inc.

For further information:

Media enquiries contact:
Wendy Hope, Vice President, External Relations
(613) 230-0031

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