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Seeking answers to the future of universal pharmacare in Canada

mortar and pestle
Written by
Nancy Dale

Nancy Dale

As we head into 2019, the future of universal pharmacare in Canada remains unclear. Questions are expected to multiply with the release of the Federal Government’s Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare, as well as the ongoing questions and concerns surrounding the Patented Medicines Prices Review Board’s (PMPRB) updated regulatory framework. Focused on breaking down barriers of prescription drugs access for Canadians in a pursuit for improved health, pending decisions are not without potential consequence to patients, the life science industry, and government.

NATIONAL and many of our clients are hungry for answers. In partnership with The Empire Club of Canada and sponsored by Life Sciences Ontario, NATIONAL’s Vice President of Public Affairs, Jane Taber, sat down for a panel discussion with some of the country’s thought leaders to discuss the impact of these changes. Panel members included public opinion expert Mr. Nik Nanos, rare disease patient advocate and CEO of CORD Ms. Durhane Wong-Rieger and Sean Speer, University of Toronto's Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy and Senior Fellow for Fiscal Policy, Macdonald-Laurier Institute.

As Mr. Nanos demonstrated with a poll commissioned by NATIONAL, Canadians are skeptical of the government’s ability to implement pharmacare heading into an election year. The panel dove into discussion about potential repercussions of policy changes in PMPRB and pharmacare including potential reduced access to medicine, loss of jobs in the life science industry and burden of paperwork for health providers. Rare disease expert Ms. Wong-Rieger challenged fellow patient advocates in the room to use this opportunity to make life better and more affordable for patients.

Leaving our 180 luncheon attendees with a lot to think about, the panel discussion brought out a message to all political parties—when it comes to meddling with Canadians’ access to medicines, tread carefully. On the surface, improving patient access and treatment is something few Canadians can disagree with, but these strategies must also inspire innovative companies to continue research and development efforts in Canada.

There is no shortage of opinion on these topics and these discussions will no doubt accelerate in advance of the 2019 federal election. As Mr. Nanos pointed out, Canadians are paying attention.

Contact our healthcare communications experts for more information and insights on these upcoming changes.

——— Nancy Dale is a former Vice-President and Practice Lead, Healthcare at NATIONAL Public Relations