125 public health care advocates meet with MPs to call for a National Public Drug Plan
Ottawa, ON – 125 public health care advocates from across Canada will be on Parliament Hill today to meet with over 100 Members of Parliament and call for the creation of a National Public Drug Plan.
Canada remains the only country in the world with a universal health care system that doesn’t include prescription medication. This leaves 1 in 10 Canadians unable to afford their prescription drugs and almost 1 in 4 Canadians not taking their medications as prescribed.
Right now Canada relies heavily on private work-based drug plans, but in Ontario “only 38 per cent of work-based drug plans cover 100 per cent of drug costs” says Julie White, board member of the CHC. “Just because people have private drug insurance does not mean that they can access the drugs they are prescribed.” Also work-based plans waste a lot of money, because of the fees charged by insurance companies and because of the absence of any control over drug prices.
“The current system is incredibly inequitable,” says Adrienne Silnicki, national coordination, Canadian Health Coalition. “People in Ontario can access more medicines than people in Nova Scotia, women are less likely to have a work-based drug plan, and which province or territory you live in determines how much you’ll pay. A National Public Drug Plan could change this. It could make the system just and save over $11 billion a year but it requires strong federal leadership to make it happen.”
A NPDP is a current hot topic in Canada. Federal Health Minister Jane Philpott was recently interviewed by the Fifth Estate saying that the federal government is working on negotiating drug pricing to make medicines more affordable. The Standing Committee on Health (HESA) has been meeting over the past year and listening to testimonies about what a NPDP would mean in Canada. A report by the committee is expected later this year.
The Canadian Health Coalition wants to use this moment to push the federal government to act quicker and go further. Instead of stopping at bulk purchasing drugs, the CHC will be calling for the full implementation of a National Public Drug Plan that would make medicines accessible and affordable to everyone in Canada.