Canada is the only developed country in the world with a universal health care program that doesn’t include a universal prescription drug plan. Instead, our multiple-payer system has resulted in the second highest prescription drug costs in the world next to the United States.
Our patchwork prescription drug system is inefficient and expensive. It has left Canadians with wildly varying prescription drug coverage and access. Many are paying different rates for the same medications.
We aren’t benefitting from the current system, but pharmaceutical and private insurance companies are. Pharmaceutical companies can charge higher prices for drugs because they sell to so many buyers. Private insurance companies benefit by charging employers, unions and employees to administer private drug insurance plans.
It’s time for Canada to catch up to our peers. It’s time to complete the unfinished business of our Medicare system with a universal prescription drug plan that will save money through bulk purchasing power.
In New Zealand, where a public authority negotiates on behalf of the entire country, a year’s supply of the cholesterol-busting drug Lipitor costs just $15 a year, compared to $811 in Canada.
That’s why Canada needs to combine the purchasing power of all Canadians under one plan. An annual investment of $1 billion by the federal government will mean Canadians save $7.3 billion a year on the medications they need.
Canadians Say “YES” to Pharmacare
An overwhelming majority – 91 percent – of Canadians believe our public health care system should include a universal prescription drug plan.
Several national health care commissions have recommended the same, along with the Canadian Medical Association, Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions, Canadian Doctors for Medicare, Federation of Canadian Municipalities, Canadian Health Coalition, Council of Canadians and the Canadian Labour Congress.
Provincial leaders are signaling support too. The Ontario provincial government, for example, has announced a targeted Pharmacare program that will cover full prescription drug costs for anyone under the age of 25.
But patchwork measures aren’t enough. We need this federal government to commit to the implementation of a national, publicly-administered universal prescription drug plan for every Canadian, in every province and territory.