Having thousands of different drug plans in Canada drives up administration costs while fragmenting our purchasing power on the global market for pharmaceuticals. Pharma loves this. So, too, do insurance companies. It is why Canadian households and businesses spend far more on prescriptions and related insurance premiums than households and businesses in countries with universal, public pharmacare systems.

The federal government is setting the foundation for a national prescription drug plan by pledging $35 million towards the inaugural agency. The plan, which was unveiled as part of Tuesday’s budget announcement, would determine what essential drugs should be accessible to all Canadians. The Liberals also committed $1 billion to help with the often-exorbitant price of medicine for rare illnesses.
While the feds have set the wheels in motion for a national pharmacare plan, many of the crucial details remain unknown. It’s unclear if the program will be funded through a single-payer plan, similar to how most Canadians pay for doctors and hospitals, or go by a “fill-in-the-gaps” approach, as they do in Quebec, where both public and private insurance is used.
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First steps on Pharmacare. “The recommendations in today’s report have the potential to increase access and move to lower costs if implemented alongside a universal, national, public pharmacare program,” said Hassan Yussuff, President of the Canadian Labour Congress. “The creation of a national drug agency and the development of a comprehensive, evidence-based national drug formulary are significant changes that will move Canada in the right direction,” said Yussuff.  “Delivering this through a pharmacare model designed similarly to Medicare will ensure that everyone, no matter where they live, has access to the medications they need, as they do right now with hospitals and doctors,” he continued.

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