For over two decades, the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU) has been advocating for a national pharmacare plan. Now, as the costs of prescription drugs continue to rise, putting pressures on a health care system that is already stretched to the limit, the CFNU is gaining some new allies. There is a growing consensus that prescription drug policies require reform. Advocates for reform include the C.D. Howe Institute (a well-known public policy think tank), the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association, provincial and territorial governments, as well as patient advocates from coast-to-coast. Like our premiers, the CFNU is committed to tackling the issue of escalating drug costs, while ensuring access and quality care. The failure to contain the costs of pharmaceuticals is threatening Canada’s ability to provide patients with the health care they need. A national pharmacare program is an urgent priority if our health care system is to provide patients with the medications they need.
A Roadmap to a Rational Pharmacare Policy by Dr. Marc-André Gagnon calls for governments, insurers, policy makers, and pharmaceutical companies to recognize that the present hybrid system we are using to fund prescription drug purchases isn’t working. As Dr. Gagnon’s paper makes clear, our current system is unfair, inequitable, and wastes money in many different ways, from excessive administrative fees to government tax subsidies, to unnecessary and expensive treatments. Reform in the current context isn’t radical; rather, it’s the rational, responsible choice we need to make.