Document Type: Commentary
Eastlake Research Group, Oakville, ON, Canada
Canadian Health Policy Institute, Toronto, ON, Canada
Fraser Institute, Vancouver, BC, Canada
Canada’s federal government intends to take steps to implement national pharmacare so that all Canadians have prescription drug coverage they need at an affordable price. Relatively limited funds have so far been pledged to support national pharmacare, which raises the question: what kind of program is envisioned? Since the government has already introduced regulations intended to reduce new drug prices drastically, national pharmacare seems likely to be a basic system designed to assist low-income Canadians with accessing primary care medicines. What Canadians actually need is a system that provides access to the medicine considered appropriate by the patient and their healthcare provider for the patient’s specific condition. Equitable national pharmacare will not be achieved if patients are denied access to new high-cost specialized medicines that can improve or extend their lives, any more than if patients who cannot afford basic drugs are not helped.