On March 6, 2019, Dr. Eric Hoskins introduced the Interim Report of the Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare at an event alongside Minister of Health Ginette Petitpas Taylor and Minister of Finance Bill Morneau.
In Budget 2018, the federal government established the Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare (the Council), led by Dr. Hoskins, the former Ontario Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. The Council’s mandate is to provide independent advice on how best to implement national pharmacare in a manner that is affordable for Canadians and their families, employers and governments.
Prescription drugs are the fastest growing segment of health expenditures in Canada, surpassing spending growth for both hospital and physician services. However, unlike other countries with a universal health insurance program, Canada does not provide comprehensive coverage for prescription drugs. Instead, insurance coverage of prescription drugs in Canada involves a patchwork system of public and private drug plans.
The Council’s 8-page Interim Report describes the foundational elements which the Council believes are vital to ensure the successful implementation of national pharmacare. They are as follows:
- Create a national drug agency
- Develop a comprehensive, evidence-based national formulary
- Invest in drug data and information technology (IT) systems.
The Council’s final report will detail the recommended model of national pharmacare, together with an implementation plan. The final report is expected June 2019.
Implications for HealthCareCAN members across the country
HealthCareCAN is pleased to see the focus on investing in data and information technology (IT) systems as a foundational element to developing national pharmacare in Canada. As reflected in HealthCareCAN’s 2019 pre-budget consultation to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance advocating for an investment in digital health and data, HealthCareCAN has recommended that the federal government support the creation of national digital health platforms that enable data sharing between institutions across Canada. With this in mind, HealthCareCAN has issued a media release echoing the call for action on health data as “building block” for national pharmacare.
The Council’s Interim Report calls for the creation of a national drug agency. This is in alignment with the federal government’s External Review of Pan-Canadian Health Organizations (PCHOs). Fit for Purpose was released spring 2018 and authored by external advisors Dr. Danielle Martin and Dr. P.G. Forest. The External Review recommended introducing a Canadian Drug Agency which would combine the functions, as well as funding, from the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technology in Health (CADTH), the Patented Medicine and Prices Review Board (PMPRB), and the Health Products and Food Branch of Health Canada (HPFB).
Finally, the Council has recommended development of a comprehensive, evidence-based national formulary. Members will note that a national drug formulary, in addition to harmonizing coverage across the country and lowering the cost of pharmaceuticals, has implications for health and biosciences research and development in Canada. The merits and drawbacks of a national pharmacare program are covered by an Issue Brief published by HealthCareCAN earlier this year.
For further information please contact:
Policy and Research Analyst
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