Us & Canadian pharmaceutical policy experts call for reform

Banner image: Healing an ailing pharmaceutical system

Us and Canadian pharmaceutical policy experts outline sweeping reforms to improve safety and accessibility of medications

TORONTO (May 17, 2018) – After two years of collaborative research the US, Canadian Pharmaceutical Policy Reform Working Group have released the results of their work in the British Medical Journal: Healing an ailing pharmaceutical system: prescription for reform for United States and Canada.

The article outlines the dysfunction in US and Canadian pharmaceutical systems; high costs of medications; and how commercial interests distort drug development. It also provides recommended reforms to improve access to medications (based on medical need, not financial means); ensure drug development and clinical trials prioritize maximizing population health; and public and independent evaluation of the safety and effectiveness of medications.

“It is clear the US and Canadian pharmaceutical systems are dysfunctional. Medications are expensive, and commercial goals distort drug development and clinical trials,” said Dr. Joel Lexchin, board member of Canadian Doctors for Medicare and co-author of the article.

“It is equally clear, however, that there is a better way forward that can improve patient care and public health while improving access medications and public safety.” Dr. Lexchin is speaking both as an expert in pharmaceutical policy and as an emergency doctor who has to deal with the negative consequences of the current system when he prescribes for his patients.

The paper comes at a critical time for pharmaceutical policy in Canada. Last month the Federal Standing Committee on Health released their report Pharmacare now: Prescription medicine coverage for all Canadians which concluded that “the best way to move forward in establishing a universal single player public prescription drug coverage program … by expanding the Canada Health Act to include prescription drugs dispensed outside of hospitals.”[1]

Health policy experts in Canada also hope that this paper will end up on the desk of Dr. Eric Hoskins who has been tasked with leading the new Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare.

“Today, close to one million Canadians are cutting costs on food or heat to afford their medications and roughly three million Canadians are without basic drug coverage,” said Dr. Danyaal Raza, Chair of Canadian Doctors for Medicare. “A universal pharmacare program is an integral step in improving the health of Canadians, and as this paper outlines there are many other ways we can improve the safety and effectiveness of medications.”

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Canadian Doctors for Medicare (CDM) provides a voice for Canadian doctors who want to strengthen and improve Canada's universal publicly-funded health care system. CDM advocates for innovations in treatment and prevention services that are evidence-based and improve access, quality, equity and sustainability.

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[1] Canada, Parliament, House of Commons, Report of the Standing Committee on Health: Pharmacare now: Prescription medicine coverage for all Canadians, 42nd Parl, 1st Sess, (Chair:  Bill Casey).