On April 18, 2018 the Standing Committee on Health tabled its report on national pharmacare entitled Pharmacare Now: Prescription Medicine Coverage for All Canadians.
The Committee believes that the best way to move forward in establishing a universal single payer public prescription drug coverage program is by expanding the Canada Health Act to include prescription drugs dispensed outside of hospitals as an insured service. The Act establishes criteria and conditions for insured health services that must be met by provinces to receive payments from the federal government. Federal government funding will be increased, although the Committee believes that the program should be cost-shared between federal, provincial and territorial governments.
In addition to amending the Act, the recommendations include:
- Expanding the mandate of the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (“CADTH”) to include maintaining the national formulary, as well as increasing its capacity to undertake therapeutic reviews of high cost specialty drugs, oncology drugs and drugs for rare diseases.
- Developing a transparent decision-making framework for price negotiations for pharmaceutical drugs undertaken by the pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance and designating it as the common agent for the bulk buying of pharmaceuticals.
- Amending the Patent Act to require manufacturers to reduce prices after 15 years if no generic substitute is available.
- Investigating the market practices of the pharmaceutical sector, including those of patented and generic drug manufacturers, wholesalers and retail pharmacies, to identify opportunities to reduce prices.
As we reported, the government has also created an Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare, which is expected to provide a report in 2019.