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Bulk buying is not enough


Bulk buying pharmaceuticals is not enough: Canadian doctors urge health ministers to adopt universal drug coverage program now

TORONTO (January 20, 2016) – Bulk buying pharmaceuticals for public drug programs is a missed opportunity to implement true national pharmacare, according to Canadian Doctors for Medicare.

Yesterday, the federal government announced a new ‘bulk buying’ program for pharmaceutical medicines to achieve greater savings for all publicly funded drug programs. While savings from bulk buying can be an important component of a pharmacare program, Dr. Monika Dutt, Chair of Canadian Doctors for Medicare, is concerned that the federal government is missing the bigger picture.

“One in five families cannot fill a prescription because of the cost,” said Dutt. “If savings from bulk buying aren’t integrated into a national, universal pharmacare strategy millions of Canadians still won’t have access to the medicines they need. Missing this opportunity could delay true pharmacare for a generation.”

Studies show that approximately 24 percent of Canadians have no drug coverage and about two-thirds of Canadian households have some level of out-of-pocket spending for prescription drugs. The lack of access to prescription medications is an urgent issue for many in Canada, including those who not qualify for provincial catastrophic drug coverage programs.

Canadian Doctors for Medicare is not alone in its support of a national drug coverage program. So far, pharmacare has received support from a variety of individuals and groups:

  • The Canadian Medical Association called for a national pharmacare program in September 2015
  • 331 Canadian health care experts signed an open letter to Dr. Jane Philpott, Canada’s federal minister of health, last November
  • 19 municipalities representing 6 million Canadians passed pro-pharmacare motions
  • Dr. Eric Hoskins, Ontario’s Minister of Health, and Premier Christie Clark of British Columbia, are both vocal proponents of a national pharmacare plan.


“Research shows that a universal, public pharmacare system – one coordinated across federal, provincial, and territorial governments – would achieve equity of access goals while saving Canadians between $4 billion and $11 billion per year,” Dutt continued. “Implementing a national pharmacare program is not only ethical, it’s fiscally responsible.”

A September 2015 survey by the Angus Reid Institute found that a vast majority of Canadians (87 per cent) support adding prescription medicines to Canadian medicare. This support exists “across the board” in terms of regions, age groups, incomes, and education levels.

Canadian Doctors for Medicare provides a voice for Canadian doctors who want to strengthen and improve Canada's universal publicly-funded health care system. We advocate for innovations in treatment and prevention services that are evidence-based and improve access, quality, equity and sustainability.

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