The glaring gaps in drug coverage for Canadian children are made stranger by the economic dimensions of the issue. Children's health care represents a drop in the ocean of health care budgets -- extending universal drug coverage to children would constitute a small fraction of total pharmaceutical spending.
The overwhelming majority of these incredibly common infections are caused by viruses -- that is, they will not respond to antibiotics -- so I don't routinely offer antibiotic treatments. When patients hear they won't be getting an antibiotic many become surprised and often upset. I then spend time counselling them about why antibiotics are, in most cases, the wrong treatment choice.
A new study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal with health economist Steve Morgan as lead author argues a national universal care drug program would not result in substantial tax increases. It seems the time is ripe to finally complete our universal system of public healthcare coverage by adding a national public drug plan. If anything, these cautions should serve as guideposts to make sure a new national drug plan is not only effective but also designed in a fiscally sustainable manner.
The federal government plays a vital role in pharmaceutical drug regulation. We have many reasons to be proud of the systems for drug safety already in place in Canada. Yet there's room for significant improvement. Canadians deserve safe, effective, accessible and reliable pharmaceutical drugs when they need them. The only way to do this is through perpetually improved systems framed by transparency and openness.
In a public healthcare system, too often system failures end up as fodder for Question Period battles rather than impetus for learning. When investments have been made in new models of health service funding and delivery that don't work out, it can be difficult to proclaim failure as a means to move toward success.
Employers want their drug plans to be as competitive as those offered by other employers. So what happens when the norm is to cover all new drugs at any cost, even if the drugs do not provide additional therapeutic value? Well, the end result is that everyone buys "generous" plans instead of increasing employee compensation. Everyone we spoke with agrees about the need to educate employees and employers alike. And in fact, everyone agrees (even insurers) that exorbitant drug costs are a big issue for Canadians.
Although advertising of prescription medicines to the public is generally banned in Canada on public health grounds, shifts in administrative policy have allowed two types of ads since late 2000: "reminder" ads that mention a brand name, but make no health claims; and "help-seeking" ads that mention a condition, but do not state a brand or company name. We have identified six main weaknesses in how Health Canada regulates this advertising.
The Liberal government of New Brunswick appears to be stepping back from the brink of mandatory prescription drug insurance. And so they should. The drug plan chosen by the Conservatives was designed on a false premise: that the private sector can better manage things than government can. In many sectors, that might be true. But not in health care.
Rather than placing a tax on health needs -- as income-based drug plans do -- Ontario should consider a more positive road to universal pharmacare. Specifically, it should consider tax financing a universal drug benefit program that would give non-seniors the same coverage elderly residents enjoy today.
Dr. Mel Borins wants to you to be healthy and he wants you equipped with more than just your family doctor's orders. A family physician and associate professor of medicine at the University of Toronto, Borins is a leading expert in health and wellness who has advocated evidence-based, alternative medicine for decades.
A 2013 EKOS poll showed that 78 per cent of Canadians are in favour of establishing a universal pharmacare program in Canada. In spite of self-serving lobby groups who insist that the current system is working well and should not be reformed, establishing a national drug plan is the best thing to do for patients, for employers, for employees, for taxpayers, and for the Canadian economy.
he false notion that opioids are safe, effective treatments for chronic pain was inculcated by the companies that manufacture them, with self-styled "experts" preaching this gospel to front-line physicians. Incredibly, this happened in the absence of good evidence that the benefits of long-term opioid use outweigh the risks.
Vaccines as we know them are on the way out. On the way in are personalized, precision vaccines, created through a new discipline called vaccinomics that promises to protect a higher proportion of the population at far lower cost and without the real and potential harms that mass vaccination programs inflict on some people. Vaccinomics -- vaccinology informed by genomics -- turns the traditional vaccine model on its head by making the individual the starting point, rather than the end point, in the vaccine creation process. Vaccines work -- or don't -- on the basis of cumulative interactions in our bodies driven by a host of immune response genes and other factors.
How do you strike a balance when treating children with drugs in the absence of such evidence? Most people might be surprised to learn that much of the medications given to children in Canada have never been adequately studied or even formally approved for the conditions they are commonly prescribed to treat.