We need universal Pharmacare now more than ever

From June 20 to Sept. 28, a federal advisory council hosted public consultations to inform recommendations on the establishment of a national Pharmacare plan.  As momentum builds for a national program, HSA members face an historic opportunity to advocate for a plan rooted in principles of fairness, accessibility, and universality. As the advisory council prepares its recommendations, our members of parliament must continue to hear from Canadians regarding the importance of a universal Pharmacare program.  

HSA members care about universal access to prescription drugs. As an HSA pharmacist said recently during a roundtable discussion on Pharmacare, the biggest concern is that once patients are discharged from hospital with a course of treatment, there’s no guarantee they have the ability to carry out the treatment if they don’t have the means to pay for necessary medication.

Essential medicines are becoming increasingly expensive for Canadians. The newly negotiated United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) expands patent rights for pharmaceutical companies that sell biologic drugs. Biologic medicines account for a siginficant portion of patented drugs sold in Canada. They include medications for serious illnesses like cancer, Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and psoriasis.

Under USMCA, patent rights for biologic drugs will be expanded from eight years to ten, restricting the supply of more affordable, generic drugs in Canada. It is estimated that this change will cost Canadian residents tens of millions of dollars annually. But a universal, single-payer Pharmacare program would create massive savings for Canadians. A report released by the Parliamentary Budget Officer estimates a Pharmacare program would save the federal government 4.2 billion per year. 

Members are  encouraged to email their MPs about the importance of creating a universal Pharmacare program, accessible to all. Use the online tool created by the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), or contact your MP directly. Please also consider signing the CLC's online petition, found here

For more information on why Canada should create a universal Pharmacare plan, please visit www.aplanforeveryone.ca.

Other resources