Pharmacare: the time has come

Did you know: 

  • 1 in 10 Canadians cannot afford the prescription drugs their doctors prescribe to them.
  • Canadians without drug coverage are four times more likely to skip prescriptions because of high costs.
  • 10% of Canadians don’t buy drugs their doctor prescribed them because they can’t afford it. This rate is higher than Germany, Holland, UK, New Zealand and other Western countries.
  • 2 million Canadians pay more than $1,000 every year for their medications due to a chronic illness.

Even though our national healthcare plan covers a big portion of our health bill, patients are relying more on prescription drugs after they leave the hospital. If you have a serious disease like cancer, sometimes medication bills will can cost thousands of dollars. Even though a majority of Canadians have some kind of drug plan, they vary greatly and they usually cannot cover your entire drug bill.

Pharmacare opponents will rattle off their predictable argument claiming the program will cost too much money. But what they don’t tell you is that Pharmacare will help keep drug costs under control. Countries like Germany, France, Australia, Italy, Switzerland, Netherlands, Sweden, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, all of whom have universal drug coverage, spend 15-60 percent less per capita than Canadians do on pharmaceutical drugs. In fact, Canada would save $14-billion every year if we had a pharmacare plan that’s similar to the one in the United Kingdom. 

Keeping drug prices under control is important. Drug prices are rising by about 8% each year. The main reason why costs are rising so quickly is the development of new and expensive drugs. If the latest drugs were better, the increased cost might be acceptable, but the vast majority are not. Some studies have shown that only 15% of new drugs are significantly better than existing medications. In fact, the latest drug is sometimes less safe than existing drugs, which have been tried and tested for years. 

Pharmacare seems to be a healthy solution for our citizens and for our economy. Canadians would no longer have to worry about whether or not they will be able to pay for their medications. And in the long run it will help reduce costs and keep drug prices affordable.

G.A.D.

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