NUPGE says national leadership needed on Pharmacare

Ottawa - The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) joins the Canadian Health Coalition (CHC) in welcoming the latest progress report on a National Pharmaceutical Strategy (NPS), compiled by provincial health ministers.

The strategy should work to improve pharmaceutical management and help offset the impact of catastrophic drug costs for Canadians.

NUPGE president James Clancy says it's a good proposal but it requires that the federal government take decisive action. "The problem of surging drug costs can only be solved by real resolve at the national level."

The key problem has been a lack of federal commitment to finance expanded drug coverage, Clancy says.

Released Thursday, the strategy says a national program to provide catastrophic coverage would cost $6.6 billion to $10 billion, depending on how it is structured. Currently, Ottawa pays for a mere 2% of drug expenditures.

"So far, the Harper government is not playing the role needed for a national drug strategy to be implemented," says Clancy.

The existing federal pharmaceutical policy is driving up drug costs while provinces, territories, employers and ordinary Canadians are left to pay the bills.

The National Union and the CHC are renewing their call for a comprehensive National Pharmacare Plan that will:

• Replace our patchwork U.S.- style drug insurance plans that drive up spending and leave millions without access.
• Provide universal, first-dollar coverage for cost-effective and safe drugs.
• Pay only for whats safe and works, and save lives, money and competitiveness. NUPGE