Canadian Medical Association

Ottawa, September 28, 2017 – The report released today from Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) provides important new information about the feasibility of developing a comprehensive national pharmacare program for Canada.

The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) believes that universal access to prescription drugs remains unfinished business for Canadian medicare given that prescription medication plays a critical role in a high-quality, patient-centred and cost-effective health care system.

Today's report responds to CMA's call for a study on the feasibility of pharmacare in 2016. Canada is the only country in the world with universal health care that does not also include prescription medications as part of its universal health program. It is an unfortunate reality that the affordability of prescription medication has emerged as a key barrier to access to care for many Canadians. Studies have shown that more than one in five Canadians (23%) reports that they or someone in their household did not take medication as prescribed because of the cost in the past 12 months.

The CMA believes that a national pharmacare program would be a key plank in a national seniors strategy. Statistics Canada's Survey of Household Spending recently revealed that households headed by a senior spend $724 per year on prescription medications, the highest among all age groups and over 60% more than the average household. Other studies have shown that significant numbers of Canadian seniors report skipping medication or not filling a prescription because of the cost.

Dr. Laurent Marcoux,
CMA President

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