Health experts urge federal leaders to commit to national pharmacare

Open letter signed by more than 1,200 experts in medicine, pharmacy, nursing, economics, and law

Eric Hoskins, chair of the Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare, speaks during a news conference at the National Press Theatre in Ottawa on Wednesday, June 12, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Eric Hoskins, chair of the Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare, speaks during a news conference at the National Press Theatre in Ottawa on Wednesday, June 12, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

More than 1,200 Canadian health care and public policy experts have signed an open letter to federal party leaders, calling on each of them to commit to implementing a national pharmacare system.

They say comprehensive public medication programs have improved access and reduced costs everywhere they’ve been implemented and want to keep national pharmacare from becoming a partisan issue.

The group of experts from across the country includes professors of medicine, pharmacy, nursing, economics, political science and law — many of them recognized as leaders in their fields.

They note that, since the 1960s, five separate national commissions have concluded that universal pharmacare would be the fairest and most affordable way to ensure universal access to necessary medicines in Canada.

Steve Morgan of the University of BC says he believes an actual program has not yet materialized in part because industry stakeholders who stand to lose billions in revenue have waged a concerted lobby over the years to prevent it from happening.

“Part of the reason for having so many experts in an academic environment sign a letter of this nature is to remind Canadians that Canadian experts who are independent of stakeholders that might benefit from the status quo are consistently on side with moving forward,” Morgan said.

RELATED: Expert panel recommends Canada implement single-payer pharmacare plan

“(We are) trying to send a signal that if a government moves forward with this recommendation, experts will support them.”

The letter urges all parties to put a plan to implement a national drug program in their campaign platforms and to follow through with those plans. It says the issue has been studied at length, and calls for immediate action, beginning in 2020.

They are endorsing the model proposed by an expert panel, led by former Ontario health minister Dr. Eric Hoskins, that recently studied the issue and delivered recommendations to the Trudeau government for a phased-in rollout of a national drug plan.

Such a plan would result in savings of an approximately $5 billion annually, an average of $350 a year for each family, the panel concluded.

Teresa Wright, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Orange shirts, shoes, flowers and messages are displayed on the steps outside the legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Tuesday, June 8, 2021 following a ceremony hosted by the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations in honour of the 215 residential school children whose remains have been discovered buried near the facility in Kamloops, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Alberta city cancels Canada Day fireworks at site of former residential school

City of St. Albert says that the are where the display was planned, is the site of the former Youville Residential School

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

Intricate cloth masks with Indigenous design made by Teresa Snow. Facebook/ Masks4Maskwacis
‘Masks 4 Maskwacis’ wins Northern Lights Volunteer Award

The group received recognition for their efforts to support their community during COVID-19.

Flora Northwest was taken to the Ermineskin residential school when she was six years old. (Emily Jaycox/Ponoka News)
Ermineskin residential school survivor: ‘It just brings me back to the cries at night’

Discovery in Kamloops of remains of 215 children a painful time for survivors

The Government of Alberta identified 115 new COVID-19 cases Sunday, bringing the provincial total to 3,089.
(Black Press file photo)
Alberta reports 100 new cases of COVID-19

The Central zone sits at 218 active cases

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto and IOC President Thomas Bach, on a screen, speak during a five=party online meeting at Harumi Island Triton Square Tower Y in Tokyo Monday, June 21, 2021. The Tokyo Olympics will allow some local fans to attend when the games open in just over a month, Tokyo organizing committee officials and the IOC said on Monday. (Rodrigo Reyes Marin/Pool Photo via AP)
Tokyo Olympics to allow Japanese fans only, with strict limits

Organizers set a limit of 50% capacity — up to a maximum of 10,000 fans

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

Bruce Springsteen performs at the 13th annual Stand Up For Heroes benefit concert in support of the Bob Woodruff Foundation in New York on Nov. 4, 2019. (Greg Allen/Invision/AP)
Canadians who got AstraZeneca shot can now see ‘Springsteen on Broadway’

B.C. mayor David Screech who received his second AstraZeneca dose last week can now attend the show

Most Read