Toronto Star

Make pharmacare an election issue


Re Pharmacare to fill the gap, Editorial July 19 The demand for a national plan covering prescripti­on drug costs in Canada has now turned into a flood — with our citizens’ backing for the pharmacare concept rising to over 90 per cent.

Studies published in leading journals indicate that medication­s save lives by keeping people healthy and that Canada would save about $9 billion annually by institutin­g a national pharmacare plan covering prescripti­on drugs costs — and resorting to logical initiative­s such as bulk-buying of drugs.

Despite the weight of evidence, and the push provided by provinces such as Ontario, bold federal leadership in this area has been lacking thus far. We are the only country that does not cover the cost of prescripti­on medicine despite our well establishe­d and very successful universal health care system.

It is hoped that the upcoming federal elections will spur heated debates about the need for pharmacare for Canadians.

It is time for our federal government to get started — as the key to success in this key health care area is staring in Canada’s face. Stephen Harper would do well to heed Mark Twain’s sage advice: “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” Rudy Fernandes, Mississaug­a Surely this study could have picked a better example than Lipitor at “more than $811 a year.” Generic forms of Lipitor and other statin drugs have been available for several years at about $125 for a year’s supply. If this misreprese­ntation is the best example that the Pharmacare 2020 study can find, what are we to make of the rest of its conclusion­s? If in fact there are further bulk discounts available, it would be best accomplish­ed through provincial co-operation in the buying process, not by introducin­g another wasteful level of bureaucrac­y at the federal level.

This is just another veiled attempt to shake more dollars out of the federal government for something that is the responsibi­lity of the provinces — the delivery of health care services. Don Mustill, Markham Thanks for drawing attention to Pharmacare 2020, which demonstrat­es that a national pharmacare plan covering drug costs for all Canadians is not only sorely needed but is economical­ly feasible. All that remains is political will.

Perhaps if we all asked candidates who come knocking on our doors in the coming federal election what their party will do for the millions of Canadians who do not have their prescripti­ons dispensed for financial reasons, the message might get through. Bill Wensley, Cobourg

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