CARP welcomes Minister Hoskins’ leadership on pharmacare; action must follow


June 8, 2015

CARP welcomes Minister Hoskins’ leadership on pharmacare; action must follow.

Toronto, ON: CARP welcomes the expert roundtable discussion on pharmacare and Dr. Hoskins’ leadership in working to reduce the cost and improve access to drugs to ensure equitable access for all Canadians. But, CARP members will expect action to follow as Canada remains the only industrialized country with universal healthcare that doesn’t provide citizens universal drug access and coverage.

CARP members want meaningful action towards universal pharmacare in Canada. Their health depends on it and the future sustainability of the health system depends on it. CARP has been recommending universal pharmacare for a number of years and is calling on the federal and provincial governments to act together and move in the best interest of Canadians.

According to the CARP Poll, three-quarters of CARP members want governments to move on universal pharmacare and a majority agrees that drugs should cost the same across Canada. In another CARP Poll, CARP members said that they are in favour of national drug purchasing and coverage strategies as the best way to bring down the cost of drugs. Overall, regardless of what mechanisms and approaches are used, universal pharmacare should do the following:

  1. Expand coverageto include a more comprehensive range of drugs and have means to cover catastrophic drugs costs
  2. Ensure equal accessso that all Canadians regardless of location and income will have the same access to affordable drugs
  3. Save moneythrough more effective pricing so that drugs are affordable and the system is sustainable

Among the considerations should be:

  1. A single national formulary to ensure that Canadians are publicly covered for the same drugs regardless of where they live in the country
  2. A single drug review mechanism to more efficiently screen drug for effectiveness and approval for sale
  3. A single drug pricing mechanism for both public and private payers

It is clear that Canada needs to change and that the status quo will not only result in avoidable costs both in dollars and people’s health. Reform is needed to ensure that drugs are affordable, accessible, and the system will be sustainable.

“CARP members will appreciate that Dr. Hoskins and his provincial counterparts are taking steps to bring down the rising costs of needed medications and to ensure equitable access for all Canadians regardless of pocketbook or postal code. The federal government must add its clout to bring the promise of pharmacare into reality,” said Susan Eng, VP Advocacy for CARP

Canadians across the country are frustrated with the current system since many interact with the system regularly and take more than three different prescription drugs at any given time. According to CARP’s Poll, due to the financial burden of prescription drugs, 10% of CARP members admit to skipping prescription drugs. The C.D. Howe also made a similar observation in BC indicating that patients are less likely to use drugs at higher costs. When BC’s public drug system changed from an age-based approach to an income-based approach, under which drugs became more expensive for some, there was a decline in seniors’ access to drugs while the use of other healthcare services increased.

Conversations around the need for pharmacare reform have been taking place for many years. Notably, a watershed paper released in 2010 by Marc-Andre Gagnon of Carleton University researcher warned policy makers of the threat of rising prescription drug prices and the consequences that would have on public coffers and people’s ability to access drugs equitably.  He called for a universal public drug plan providing first-dollar coverage that would ensure fair access to drugs and contain rising drug prices. He calculated that Canadians could save 10% to 42% of total drug expenditures, which is equivalent to an astounding $10.7 billion annually. The potential savings in pursuing meaningful drug policy reform – to both governments and private payers – is significant.

CARP is a national, non-partisan, non-profit organization committed to advocating for a New Vision of Aging for Canada, social change that will bring financial security, equitable access to health care and freedom from discrimination. CARP seeks to ensure that the marketplace serves the needs and expectations of our generation and provides value-added benefits, products and services to our members. Through our network of chapters across Canada, CARP is dedicated to building a sense of community and shared values among our members in support of CARP’s mission.

For further information, please contact:

Sarah Park   416.607.2471
Director, Communications
[email protected]

Michael Nicin   416.607.2479
Director of Policy
[email protected]

Anna Sotnykova  416.607.2475
Media & Communications Coordinator
[email protected]

CARP, A New Vision of Aging for Canada
or visit our website:
Follow @CARPAdvocacy on Twitter: Click here and add us!