Pulling together—or pulling apart—a national drug plan

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The results of the federal election are in, and the Liberals have hung on with a minority government. As the New Democrats and the Greens both campaigned on the promise of universal drug coverage, there should be enough collective political will to continue down the path laid out by the Liberals.

As a reminder, this includes a national drug formulary and national purchasing strategy along with coverage for high cost drugs for rare diseases. As originally envisioned, provinces could choose whether or not to join in. Given the virtual Conservative sweep in Alberta and Saskatchewan, and the fact that stronger drug plans that already exist in some provinces, I expect we will see several elect to not participate. This will reduce the purchasing power of those who join the plan.

I still feel strongly that a national formulary that ensures equal access for all Canadians is an important reflection of who we are as a nation, although this would be undermined if all provinces do not participate. More importantly. I believe high cost drugs are something we must address nationally. As a nation of mostly small employers Few companies can support high cost drug claims on their own, but spreading that risk across the country and managing the formula will help keep drug coverage sustainable.

We have many other challenges in our health system, such as the doctor shortage I discussed in last week’s blog. In an ideal world, a sound drug strategy would assist in alleviating some of these challenges.

I remain the eternal optimist.

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