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Canadian Pharmacists Association
Canadian Pharmacists Association
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Improving drug access for Canadians

The Issue

All developed countries with universal health care provide universal coverage for prescription drugs – except Canada. Nationwide, just 44% of prescription drug costs are publically funded, compared to 90% of hospital costs and 99% of medical costs. While every province offers some level of coverage in addition to private insurance plans, many Canadians cannot afford to fill their prescriptions.

What is Pharmacare?

While there is general consensus that better pharmacare is necessary and possible in Canada, it is clear that there are many ways to get there.

Reducing drug expenditures and ensuring fair drug prices is only one piece of the puzzle. A sustainable and affordable pharmacare model must be based on optimal health outcomes and patient-centred care. However, access to necessary medications is only one component of a sustainable pharmacare model; patients also require access to the full range of services to ensure safe and effective drug therapy and optimal health outcomes. Access to pharmacy services will encourage optimal drug use, increase disease prevention and health promotion efforts, and contribute substantially to the overall health of the Canadian population.

Prescribed drug expenditures account for just 13.4% of Canada’s total health spending ($214.9 billion). A singular preoccupation on drug pricing risks missed opportunities for cost savings in other areas of the health system through improved medication adherence, early detection, chronic disease management, and preventative health measures.

Key Priorities

CPhA believes that all Canadians should be able to access medically necessary medications, regardless of income. Any future pharmacare policy must address four key priorities:

  • Addressing gaps between private and public systems
  • Protecting Canadians from undue financial hardship
  • Protecting patient access to a stable supply of clinically and cost-effective drugs
  • Providing access to the full range of services to achieve better health, better care and better value

What Canadians Are Saying

Renewed national discussion on a pan-Canadian pharmacare framework requires clear evidence for policymakers and a clear national consensus on priorities important to Canadians. CPhA, as the national voice of Canadian pharmacists, is committed to gathering this evidence and building consensus. In 2015, CPhA conducted a national survey on Canadian attitudes towards pharmacare. Here is what Canadians are saying.

  • 79% Canadian’s support the idea of a pan-Canadian pharmacare program, but they are concerned about limiting choice, administration and costs
  • Canadians strongly support pharmacists and pharmacy services as part of a pan-Canadian pharmacare program
  • A plurality of Canadians support a pharmacare program that targets those without an existing public or private plan