The Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare (“Council”) presented an interim report following consultation with Canadians. The report outlines work done to date by the Council, core principles the Council believes should underpin national pharmacare, and initial foundational recommendations.
As we reported, the Council consulted with Canadians on the implementation of a national program to fund prescription drugs. The Council engaged with patients and caregivers, healthcare providers, representatives of Indigenous organizations, government officials, industry, labour, employers, and academics.
The Council reports that feedback indicated that the current system is neither adequate nor sustainable and that very few advocated for the status quo. There was support for ensuring affordability and uniformity in drug coverage, however there was variation in perspectives concerning how national pharmacare should be implemented.
Six core principles for national pharmacare were identified:
- Ensuring all Canadians have access to prescription drugs based on medical need, without financial or other barriers to access;
- Ensuring coverage is portable and consistent across all jurisdictions;
- Providing access to a comprehensive, evidence-based formulary, with special consideration for drugs for rare diseases;
- Being designed and delivered in partnership with patients and citizens;
- Focusing on a strong partnership between federal, provincial and territorial governments and Indigenous peoples; and,
- Including a robust management system that promotes safety, innovation, value-for-money and sustainability of prescription drug costs.
The Council also identified three foundational elements that can be acted on immediately:
- Create an arms-length national drug agency in partnership with provinces, territories, and Indigenous peoples that would manage and oversee national pharmacare. Even in the absence of national pharmacare, the Council sees a benefit in consolidating many of the functions currently being undertaken. These include health technology assessments, negotiations with manufacturers, monitoring safety and effectiveness, developing a national formulary and supporting prescribers and others.
- Develop a national evidence-based formulary in partnership with provinces and territories, Indigenous peoples, patients/citizens, and clinical and other experts to serve as a baseline for harmonizing coverage across Canada.
- Invest in drug data and information technology systems to meet the goals and objectives of national pharmacare. This would cover the entire spectrum of care, from electronic prescribing to real-time claims adjudication to dispensing to post-marketing data collection.
The Council is in the process of completing its recommendations and issuing its final report. The Council will finalize its advice to the Government in the form of a report and blueprint for the implementation of national pharmacare.