Pharmacare Now: Prescription Medicine Coverage for All Canadians

On April 18th 2018, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health released its long-anticipated report on the development of a national pharmacare program in Canada.
The report, entitled Pharmacare Now: Prescription Medicine Coverage for All Canadians, is the culmination of two years of evidence considered by the Committee over 23 meetings which included testimony from 99 witnesses.
The report outlines 18 recommendations. Among them that the Government of Canada:
  • Amend the Canada Health Act to include drugs on national formulary as an “insured health service”
  • Provide additional funds to provinces/territories via the Canadian Health Transfer
  • Develop a common national formulary maintained by CADTH
  • Develop a transparent framework for pCPA and designate it as the common bulk buying agent for prescription drugs
  • Align PMPRB’s mandate with CADTH’s policies & priorities
  • Investigate pharmaceutical market practices to promote price reductions through greater competition

The 140-page report outlines an ambitious road forward for the future of pharmacare in Canada, particularly given the complexities of the existing public and private pharmaceutical reimbursement landscape. While the report makes clear its priority for a common national formulary, it simultaneously recognizes the need that it be implemented via the existing division of powers between the federal and provincial/territorial governments. As this phase of study comes to a close, the question becomes whether – and if so, how – these findings and recommendations will be considered by the recently established Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare as it studies, evaluates and recommends options for national pharmacare in 2018 and beyond. 

For more information on the Standing Committee on Health and its study on the Development of a National Pharmacare Program, please visit its website or read its full report here.