Life-saving drugs for free? It could happen
The federal government might be getting into the prescription drug business – and it could be a life-saver for many.
In its 2018 budget, the federal government established an Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare (prescription drug coverage). The Council’s purpose is to advise the government on the best approach to implementing a national pharmacare program.
Change could be coming
The federal government recently released a very readable discussion paper to start the ball rolling.
What would national pharmacare look like? It’s still early days – and we don’t know if the government will take over drug coverage for all Canadians, whether private insurers will continue offering workplace coverage, or whether a hybrid system will emerge.
But one of the drug coverage “hot potatoes” that could land in the government’s lap is coverage for high-cost specialty drugs for rare diseases, often called “orphan drugs.” Some of these drug treatments are truly life-saving, but costs for some are hundreds of thousands of dollars. The question is, who should pay?
Will government step up?
According to the National Post, Canada is one of the only developed countries without a regulatory framework for rare disease drugs, although previous governments have taken steps to address the issue.
The issue is that with greater numbers of highly effective, high-cost drugs being brought to market each year, access and affordability are a greater concern than ever. And as the baby boom bulge makes its way into old age, we know there will be no shortage of demand.
While the federal government is studying a potential new model for all prescription medications, a change relating to rare-disease drugs is the one that could truly be a life-saver.
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