Health Minister Glavine favours national Pharmacare program

October 7, 2014
Michael Gorman, The Chronicle Herald

Nova Scotia’s health and wellness minister says a national drug program would take some of the cost pressure off provinces and provide access for people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford certain medications.

“I think it’s one we should really be taking a look at,” Leo Glavine said Tuesday.

While the decision ultimately is a federal one, Glavine said there should at least be coverage for catastrophic drugs, especially ones for treating cancer.

“For our province to get the full list covered in a particular year, because new cancer care treatments are coming along all the time, it is an enormous challenge.”

Dr. Danielle Martin, a Toronto doctor and prominent health-care advocate, was in Halifax last week promoting the idea of a national Pharamacare program. Martin said 30 per cent of people in Atlantic Canada have no drug insurance. Bringing prescription medication under public health insurance, or at least those drugs that help chronic illness, would have a net positive impact on health systems and budgets, she said.

Without a national buying program or buying generic drugs in bulk, Martin argues that governments are missing out on tremendous savings while also preventing many people from accessing the medication they need.

The Atlantic provinces are working on a buying program among themselves, said Glavine. While it’s too soon to know what impact that will have, the minster said it is reasonable to expect savings. The Atlantic health ministers will meet later this month to discuss the option of buying some drugs in bulk in an effort to get better prices.

“I think we’re going to make good progress on that. It doesn’t matter what governments are in office; they realize the day has come where we can benefit from that.”


Source: The Chronicle Herald