Get­ting it right on Phar­ma­care

Policy - - Before The Bell | From The Editor - BY PAMELA FRAL­ICK

It has of­ten been cited that Canada is the only ma­jor western coun­try with a na­tional Medi­care sys­tem that does not in­clude some ver­sion of a na­tional pub­lic drug plan. Last year, more than 620 mil­lion pre­scrip­tions were filled by Cana­di­ans. Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals are the most fre­quently used ther­a­peu­tic in­ter­ven­tion used by clin­i­cians to treat peo­ple and yet some­how phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals have not yet been fully in­te­grated into the Cana­dian health sys­tem.

In­no­va­tive Medicines Canada has been ad­vo­cat­ing for the cre­ation of a pan-Cana­dian frame­work to sup­port com­pre­hen­sive ac­cess to phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals for all Cana­di­ans.To in­form this di­a­logue, we put for­wardthree prin­ci­ples that we be­lieve should form the ba­sis of any sus­tain­able na­tional phar­ma­care pro­gram.


First and fore­most, we be­lieve that all Cana­di­ans should have timely ac­cess to the choice of medicines they need, re­gard­less of in­come, age, or postal code.

While there is ro­bust pri­vate and pub­lic drug cov­er­age in Canada, we rec­og­nize that these sys­tems are not per­fect and that some Cana­di­ans are fall­ing through the cracks, ei­ther be­cause they have no cov­er­age, or they have in­suf­fi­cient cov­er­age. For­tu­nately, ac­cord­ing to a re­cent anal­y­sis by the Con­fer­ence Board of Canada, over 98% of Cana­di­ans are in fact el­i­gi­ble for some form of pre­scrip­tion drug cov­er­age. How­ever, nearly 10% of Cana­di­ans (P.6 mil­lion) Cana­di­ans are not tak­ing ad­van­tage of pub­lic drug cov­er­age for which they are el­i­gi­ble.

Rea­sons for this in­clude a lack of aware­ness of their el­i­gi­bil­ity and out-of-pocket costs.

A made-in-Canada phar­ma­care pro­gram should fo­cus on meet­ing the needs of those vul­ner­a­ble Cana­di­ans who need medicines but are ei­ther not el­i­gi­ble for any cov­er­age or have in­suf­fi­cient cov­er­age.

Value and Sus­tain­abil­ity

Cana­di­ans are gen­er­ally sup­port­ive of the gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion to ex­am­ine ways to help make medicines af­ford­able for all Cana­di­ans, ac­cord­ing to an Aba­cus data sur­vey re­leased in Septem­ber[1]. When asked what fac­tors should be con­sid­ered in de­vel­op­ing a na­tional pol­icy, 94% of re­spon­dents in­di­cated the need to keep costs low for tax­pay­er­sand 90% did not want group cov­er­age to be put at risk of can­cel­la­tion.

We agree with Cana­di­ans that any phar­ma­care op­tion must be both fis­cally re­spon­si­ble and prac­ti­cal to im­ple­ment in the con­text of Canada’s mixed pub­lic and pri­vate in­sur­ance frame­work.

Sys­tem Re­spon­sive­ness

Phar­ma­care op­tions should re­flect di­verse and evolv­ing pa­tient needs and be re­spon­sive to tech­no­log­i­cal change through the timely adop­tion of in­no­va­tion. Medicines have the po­ten­tial to save lives or en­hance a pa­tient’s qual­ity of life and save pre­cious health­care dol­lars. For ex­am­ple, a study of six classes of in­no­va­tive medicines in On­tario found that the cost of the new medicines was off­set by re­duc­tions in the use of other health­care re­sources such as physi­cians and hospi­tals, and re­duced pro­duc­tiv­ity loss­esin the work­place.

A na­tional phar­ma­care sys­tem does not have to be an all-or-noth­ing propo­si­tion. Cana­di­ans don’t have to choose be­tween the cur­rent dual-payer sys­tem or a sin­gle-payer univer­sal phar­ma­care pro­gram funded en­tirely by gov­ern­ment. By ad­dress­ing the needs of Cana­di­ans who don’t have cov­er­age or are un­der­in­sured, we can cre­ate a sus­tain­able na­tional phar­ma­care pro­gram that en­sures that pa­tients re­ceive the best stan­dard of care and have timely ac­cess to nec­es­sary medicines for years to come.

Pamela Fral­ick is pres­i­dent of In­no­va­tive Medicines Canada

Con­trib­uted to the Sixth Es­tate – The views and opin­ions ex­pressed in this ar­ti­cle are those of the au­thors and do not nec­es­sar­ily re­flect the of­fi­cial pol­icy or po­si­tion of the Sixth Es­tate.

Nearly 10% of Cana­di­ans (3.6 mil­lion) are not tak­ing ad­van­tage of pub­lic drug cov­er­age for which they are el­i­gi­ble.”

Phar­ma­care left to right: Guest host David Akin Global News, Bill Casey MP, Chair House of Com­mons Stand­ing Com­mit­tee on Health, Joelle Walker Cana­dian Phar­ma­cists As­so­ci­a­tion, Janet Yale Arthri­tis So­ci­ety, Pamela Fral­ick In­no­va­tive Medicines Canada. Source: Twit­ter

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