Health care professionals present roadmap to national pharmacare

TORONTO, August 27, 2014 - Health care professionals, including doctors, nurses and hospital staff, came together today to draw a roadmap to a National Pharmaceutical Program for the nation’s Premiers and Territorial Leaders, and urge them to take that road today.

“New economic research shows a comprehensive National Pharmaceutical Program can save Canadians over $11 Billion each year,” said Linda Silas, the President of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions, who commissioned the research. “Why wouldn’t we, in these tough times, seize on that opportunity immediately.”

Health economist Marc-André Gagnon, author of the CFNU paper, outlined in specific detail, how a publicly administered drug program could lower drug prices, reduce administrative costs and provide accessibility for less.

Research by Canadian Doctors for Medicare shows that the first step toward a National Pharmaceutical Program is not only easy, and cost effective, but also improves health. “One person in 10 can’t pay for their drugs, that rises to 1 in 2 for low income Canadians,” said Dr. Monika Dutt, Chair of Canadian Doctors for Medicare. “These are our patients, and without their medicines they get sicker, and need more serious, and expensive, treatments. But right now, we can give people at least the most commonly prescribed drugs for less than we are spending now on an inefficient system. Why wouldn’t we take that first step.”

"In Canada we have the promise of equal access, public delivery and portability of health care through the Canada Health Act,” said Paul Moist, President of CUPE. “Without a plan to move to a national pharmacare program that promise is not being met and many Canadians are denied appropriate care. This plan for provincial cooperation on bulk purchase is an important first step in fixing this growing and gaping whole in our health care system."

A national pharmaceutical program can be achieved through:

- a centralized, tendered, competitive purchasing that enables us to buy pharmaceuticals for less

- administering a single public drug plan to that saves administrative costs

- using lower costs to can eliminate the barrier high drug costs have imposed on patients

- improving the health of Canadians by getting each patient the medications they need and avoiding the high costs of unnecessary hospitalizations that result from lack of access to medications

There is no way to justify spending $11 billion more than we need to and still denying people the care they need. Through implementing a national pharmaceutical program we will spend billions less and provide everyone the care their doctor has prescribed them.

It's time the provinces jointly committed to taking this step forward to ensure affordable access to medications for Canadians. The Federal Government would also benefit from lowering drug costs and have an obligation to be actively engaged in helping this happen.

Click here for the detailed report.

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For further information contact:

Canadian Doctors for Medicare
Sean Meagher
416-820-7889
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CFNU
Anil Naidoo
613-986-5409
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CUPE
Gregory Taylor
613-818-0067
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