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Report shows Canadians will save billions with pharmacare

New report shows Canadians would save billions with a national pharmacare program in place

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(September 27, 2017) – A day before the Parliamentary Budget Office’s report on the cost of implementing universal pharmacare in Canada, health policy experts have released a report that outlines the billions that could be saved from existing public and private spending under such a program.

“Canadians may not realize that they are already spending over $30 billion a year for prescription medications due to a patchwork of public programs, private insurance, and out of pocket expenses,” said Peter Bleyer, Executive Director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. “Implementing universal pharmacare will lead to efficiencies, better price negotiations, and reduced health system costs.”

The report shows that in 2016 over $18 billion in public spending scattered across more than 100 different plans at the federal, provincial and territorial levels; drug coverage for public employees; workplace compensation programs, and tax incentives for private insurance plans. In addition to this public spending, Canadians spent $7.3 billion out of pocket for prescription medications and another $6.4 billion was spent by individuals, families and employers for private drug insurance. These costs would be avoided if a national pharmacare program were in place.

This patchwork of programs fragments purchasing power and the ability to negotiate competitive medication pricing with drug companies. As a result, drug prices in Canada are 30 per cent above the OECD average, and one in five families are unable to fill their prescriptions due to cost.

The current model is inefficient, expensive, and far from meeting the medical needs of Canadians. “Not only will a national pharmacare plan cost less than Canadians are currently spending, it will ensure better coverage so that every Canadian has access to the medications they need,” said Dr. Danyaal Raza, Chair of Canadian Doctors for Medicare.

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For more information please contact:

Katie Arnup, Communications and Outreach Manager for CDM, at 647-289-5205 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Canadian Doctors for Medicare provides a voice for Canadian doctors who want to strengthen and improve Canada's universal publicly-funded health care system in a way that benefits all Canadians.

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives is an independent, non-partisan research institute concerned with issues of social, economic and environmental justice.