The facts on Pharmacare

Albertans need a Pharmacare program that ensures everyone has access to affordable and safe prescription drugs. There are currently too many financial barriers preventing seniors and chronically ill Albertans from obtaining medications that keep them healthy and out of the hospital. Albertans understand that universality is a key principle of health care and that prescription drugs are a vital component of health care. Giving people access to the medications they need saves money by preventing health problems or speeding recovery from health problems.

Canada is the only country with a universal health care system that does NOT provide universal coverage of medically necessary prescriptions. It can be safely said that Canada’s universal public health care system effectively ends as soon as a patient is handed a prescription to fill.

Do you support a universal Pharmacare program?

Send a letter to Justin Trudeau and your MP, and help ensure that ALL Albertans have access to the medications they need.

Here are the facts:

  • A national public drug plan would save us money. We pay the second highest price for pharmaceutical medicines in the world, trailing only the United States. The federal government, provinces, territories, and hospitals all negotiate separately with pharmaceutical companies for the price of medicines, resulting in $7.3 billion in squandered health care dollars each year. This is not to mention the downstream costs resulting from inadequate access and cost-related nonadherence to necessary prescription medicines: Pharmacare could save our health care systems $1,488 per patient per year by preventing unnecessary hospitalizations.

    Bulk bargaining and combined purchasing power allows for the negotiation of better prices from pharmaceutical and generic manufacturers. If we implemented a national Pharmacare program, we would see a projected yearly savings of
    $9 billion for employers and $7.1 billion for households.
  • A national public drug plan would save lives.  Hundreds of Canadians suffer a premature death every year because of barriers to accessing their medications, while thousands more experience avoidable health deterioration as a result. An estimated 420 working-aged Canadians with diabetes die each year because they don't have adequate access to their medications.

    Almost 1 in 4 people in Canada report skipping or splitting their prescriptions due to high costs. A national Pharmacare program would ensure that every Canadian had access to the life-saving drugs they need.
  • A national formulary would be evidence-based, resulting in better and safer drugs. Current research shows that only about 1 out of every 10 new drugs offer therapeutic advantage over medicines currently on the market. New medicines do not need to be an improvement on those already on the market, they just need to be better than a placebo. Further, pharmaceutical expenditure on research in development has been steadily falling in the last 30 years, now accounting for only 4.1% of pharmaceutical profits.

    A national, evidence-based formulary created free from political and industry influence would ensure that all Canadians, regardless of income or location would have access to the safest and most effective prescription drugs. 
  • A fill-in-the-gaps model won't work. We already have a patchwork of private and public drug plans - more than 100 public drug plans and 113,000 private plans across the country, meaning cost and access varies drastically based on things like your age, your place of employment, or the province you live in. Alberta alone has 23 public drug and supplementary benefit plans, and yet 17% of Albertans have no drug coverage. Additionally, plans often have high deductibles, co-pays, and caps on remittances, meaning that even with drug benefits, medications remain unaffordable for many.

    Only a universal, single-payer program would ensure that every Canadian had access to the medications they need, regardless of their age, income, location, or marital status, while saving employers and households billions of dollars every year.
  • We need the provinces and territories to opt-in. The Advisory Council for the Implementation of National Pharmacare has recommended that the federal government provide incremental funding support to provincial and territorial governments to expand coverage and implementing Pharmacare within their jurisdictions. Health care is a provincial jurisdiction, and so the premiers want to ensure that they have the ability to opt-out of the federal program. A partial plan is on the horizon, yet before any details have been made public, Alberta's Health Minister has already stated that the UCP government intends to opt Alberta out of the deal

    However, piecemeal support across the country would not only undermine the universality of the program, but would diminish many of the positive impacts of a nation-wide program, including lessening out ability to save money via bulk bargaining for the best prices for prescription drugs.