Saturday, June 22, 2024

Medications for Canadians: Advancing Universal Access with the Pharmacare Act

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People should have access to quality medications, regardless of where they live or their ability to pay. People should not have to choose between paying for their medications and putting food on the table. Unfortunately, many Canadians are still forced to make this impossible decision. Recently, the Honourable Mark Holland, Minister of Health, alongside the Honourable Kamal Khera, Minister of Diversity, Inclusion and Persons with Disabilities, reiterated the Government of Canada’s commitment to making essential and preventive medications more accessible and affordable.

In February 2024, the Government of Canada introduced Bill C-64, the Pharmacare Act, which outlines the plan for the first phase of national universal pharmacare in Canada. This act signifies the government’s intent to collaborate with provinces and territories to provide universal, single-payer coverage for various contraceptives and diabetes medications. The Pharmacare Act is a concrete step towards realizing a national pharmacare program that will improve the health of Canadians and strengthen the public healthcare system.

Coverage for contraceptives will ensure that nine million Canadians of reproductive age have better access to contraception, supporting their sexual and reproductive health. The cost has consistently been identified as the most significant barrier to accessing these medications, a burden unevenly borne by women and gender-diverse Canadians. Pharmacare will give women and gender-diverse Canadians greater control over their reproductive health.

Improving Access to Diabetes Medications: Canada’s Plan to Enhance Health Equity and Affordability

Diabetes is a complex disease with no cure, but it can be treated with safe and effective medications. However, one in four Canadians with diabetes has reported not following their treatment plan due to cost. Improving access to diabetes medications will help improve the health of 3.7 million Canadians living with diabetes and reduce the risk of serious, life-changing health complications such as blindness or amputations. The Government of Canada will consult widely about the path forward and will work with provinces, territories, Indigenous Peoples, and other partners and stakeholders to improve the accessibility, affordability, and appropriate use of pharmaceutical products.

Financial barriers should never prevent people from accessing prescription drugs and related products. The government is determined to work towards a plan where Canadians can obtain their medication as prescribed, regardless of where they live or their financial situation. This is an important step forward to improve health equity, affordability, and health outcomes for Canadians, with potential long-term cost savings to the public healthcare system.

Canadians should be able to get the prescription drugs they need. The pharmacare plan will help nine million Canadians have freedom over their sexual and reproductive health. The plan will ensure that more than three million Canadians with diabetes get the medication to prevent serious complications and live healthy lives. This plan will build a stronger public health system, reduce healthcare costs, and provide Canadians with better healthcare.


Reducing Costs and Improving Access: Canada’s Pharmacare Plan and New Drug Initiatives

Cost is one of the primary barriers for Canadians accessing medications for diabetes and birth control. Since 2015, the government has been focused on making life more affordable for Canadians and supporting those who need it the most. The Pharmacare plan aims to help millions of Canadians get the medication they need, regardless of where they live or their ability to pay. That’s what fairness for every generation is about.

On December 18, 2023, the Government of Canada announced the creation of the Canadian Drug Agency with an investment of over $89.5 million over five years, starting in 2024-25. The Agency will provide the dedicated leadership and coordination needed to make Canada’s drug system more sustainable and help Canadians achieve better health outcomes. On March 22, 2023, the Government of Canada announced measures in support of the first-ever National Strategy for Drugs for Rare Diseases, with an investment of up to $1.5 billion over three years to help increase access to and the affordability of effective drugs for rare diseases.

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PEI residents have saved over $2 million in out-of-pocket costs on more than 230,000 prescriptions under PEI’s $5 copay program, launched in June 2023. This program reduced copays for almost 60% of medications regularly used by Island residents. These improvements are an important milestone of the Improving Affordable Access to Prescriptions Drugs (IAAPD) initiative, which provides federal funding to PEI to improve access to prescription drugs and make them more affordable for Island residents.


Resource: Health Canada, May 24, 2024

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