stevecoleimages via Getty Images
Counterfeit drugs are one of the greatest threats to patient safety and the pharmaceutical industry. Smart packaging is capable of addressing the issue.
SokRom via Getty Images
Ontario has been the site of dueling pharmacare proposals and Canadians are the victors. At the end of April, the opposition NDP promised universal drug coverage for a list of essential medicines. Not to be outdone, the ruling Liberal party announced universal coverage for all drugs on the provincial formulary for youth under 25 years of age. Most health policy experts praised both proposals, myself included.
alvarez via Getty Images
At the heart of Canada's prescription drug affordability crisis are the long approval processes and prospective reimbursement lists. Improving customer choice by allowing earlier access to new pharmaceuticals would be a silver bullet to reducing drug costs per treatment.
DragonImages via Getty Images
Canada has the second-highest drug costs in the world after the United States, and drugs represent the fastest growing category of health expenditure. The Trudeau government's trade deal with Europe will only add to the problem. Pharmacare is a health issue, a class issue and an issue of fairness.
Alex Wong via Getty Images
Canada is an outlier for not having a universal program for prescription drugs for children and for allowing wide inter-provincial variation in how public drug plans serve children. This means that many families can't afford to pay for the essential medicines that their children need to get healthy, stay healthy and grow up healthy.
Cecilie_Arcurs via Getty Images
Other than driving doctors to activism that might even send them north across the border, threats to the Canadian system as a result of the Trump agenda relate less to the repeal of Obamacare and more to his intention to renegotiate NAFTA.
Chris Wattie / Reuters
Several national commissions on Canada's health care system have recommended adding prescription drugs to our publicly funded universal medicare system. No federal government has ever acted on those recommendations. Not yet, anyhow. By creating 'pharmacare-junior,' Premier Wynne and Minister Hoskins are in essence calling on the federal government to help finish the job and create a pharmacare program for all Canadians of all ages.
stevecoleimages via Getty Images
Shoppers Drug Mart and Loblaws recently made headlines by announcing they will cover medical cannabis for their employees. But the devil is always in the details. While these two chains should be praised for their progressive steps forward, we also need to ask who this coverage is provided for, how much is being covered, as well as how this fits with the overall long-term strategy to position pharmacies as the front-line dispensers of medical cannabis.
luchschen via Getty Images
Surveys and polls often show Canadians are proud of our universal health system, which provides publicly funded care for doctor and hospital services. Canadians don't have to worry about filing for bankruptcy to get care for themselves or their families when they need it. But when it comes to prescription medications, our health system comes up short.
Vstock via Getty Images
In December, the health-care industry rejoiced as the 21st Century Cures Act achieved overwhelming bipartisan support in Congress and was signed into law by former U.S. President Barack Obama. The new...
stevecoleimages via Getty Images
Let me start saying that from my "experience," and that's what this article is all about (not expertise), probably most of my visits to doctors and specialists as a patient have been a waste of my time, plus a misuse of all kind of resources depending on where one is living and what kind of insurance one would have.
Boston Globe via Getty Images
As Canadians, we are proud of our universal health care system, which provides publicly-funded essential doctor and hospital care based on need and not ability to pay. Unfortunately, our health system falls short when it comes to prescription medication.
Jupiterimages via Getty Images
Across Canada, the tragic spike in opioid-related deaths has brought to national attention the large and complex issue of drug use and misuse. As fentanyl-related overdoses are gripping the country, there is a connected, but separate crisis of doctor-prescribed opioids being increasingly used on a regular, long-term basis.
Julie Toy via Getty Images
Why? Universal drug plans mean national bodies negotiate fairer prices for prescription drugs. The results are dramatic. So, while some critics claim that universal prescription drug insurance is a nice idea, but not affordable - it's very clear that universal prescription drug insurance is actually the key to affordability.
diego_cervo via Getty Images
Many believe pharmaceutical companies are repugnant. There were several serious issues that built the foundation of the anti-pharma movement. While not all companies are guilty or equally responsible, many behaved unethically. They didn't always fully disclose research and safety data if it didn't support their product. They attempted to prevent researchers from voicing serious concerns. They created inappropriate relationships with physicians, leaving the impression that doctors were being bought, and sometimes that was true. This had to change.
tibor13 via Getty Images
Today's disjointed pharmaceutical policy may be described as a Shakespearean tragedy -- a flawed system that will always end with demise. The relationship between health care policies, the funding of prescription drugs and public access to medically necessary medication is fragmented. It is in need of political leadership.
OpenRangeStock via Getty Images
When the topic of health care and pharmaceutical drugs comes up, the discussion usually turns sooner or later to the high prices we pay. At the upcoming meeting of the Council of the Federation in Yukon, the Canadian health care system will certainly be on the agenda. But a national pharmacare plan would do more harm than good.
Nadia Richie Studio via Getty Images
We have heard a lot about legalization, and right now everyone is talking about the regulations that will go along with that legalization, but it would be prudent to remember the mandate of the government: Legalize, Regulate, and Restrict Access to minor of cannabis products.
DNY59 via Getty Images
It's natural for any industry to undergo changes, but few industries have experienced as many rapid changes as the pharmaceutical and health care ones. To remain relevant among these digitally wired consumers, big pharmaceutical companies have adjusted, making visible efforts to grab the audience's attention through web and mobile presence.
By R Parulan Jr. via Getty Images
The case of 'too much medication' in Canadian seniors is finally starting to be recognized for the serious problem it has become. Seniors are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of too many prescription drugs because aging affects their ability to process medications.
Shutterstock / Paul Matthew Photography
In the arms race between germs and medicine, the global community has two complementary strategies at its disposal: First, we can develop new antimicrobials, and secondly, we can slow the emergence of resistant strains through judicious use of current antimicrobials.
Liz O. Baylen via Getty Images
If Canada is to implement national pharmacare, surely we want to know more about the drugs we'll be paying for. To this end, we must tackle a pre-existing challenge: we must open up the evidence our drug regulator houses concerning drug safety and effectiveness. For decades Health Canada has kept that information confidential at the behest of drug manufacturers. This practice limits the ongoing evaluation of a drug's safety and effectiveness and, in turn, provincial and territorial governments' decision-making about which drugs to pay for, not to mention physicians and patients who make decisions about which drugs to prescribe and take.
Wavebreakmedia Ltd via Getty Images
Today, doctors' offices are inundated with people who have been harmed more than helped by these drugs. Thousands more are dead. And yet the marketing continues, with pain specialists and advocacy groups opposing moves to curtail opioid prescription, their efforts financed by the very companies that make these drugs.
Unlike any comparable country, Canada's universal public health care system effectively ends as soon as a patient is handed a prescription to fill. Millions of Canadians have no drug coverage at all and millions more have coverage that is inadequate to ensure access to medicines.
Vstock via Getty Images
You will know well from history that real change won't happen by providing more federal money with unconditional transfers.Real change will require helping provinces to shift the focus of our health system away from those who are relatively well resourced to new areas of care, such as essential pharmaceuticals and homecare.
Shutterstock / Pruser
Financial barriers to filling necessary prescriptions result in worse health for patients. They also result in increased use of taxpayer-finance hospital and medical care. In other words, they don't save anybody money in the long run.
Ilya Andriyanov via Getty Images
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.
What the report, Improving Medicines for Children in Canada confirmed was what pediatricians in the field already know -- 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.
Shutterstock / 18percentgrey
Provinces are clearly voting with their budgets, going slow and low on approvals and coverage of new therapies. Canada is not wrong to be prudent in taking our time to decide how, or if, a new drug needs to be covered -- a precautionary approach is just the smart way to go.
Eight provincial health ministers organized a roundtable with healthcare professionals and academic experts on June 8 to discuss how we should transform drug coverage in Canada and several are now calling for a national pharmacare program. The question now is, what kind?
Cities have to spend this money, taken from local taxpayers, because Canada's medicare system is the only universal, public health care system among developed countries that does not include universal coverage of prescription drugs. It is not wrong for cities to care for their employees. But leaving these costs to the cities makes about as much sense as requiring every homeowner to maintain the roads and infrastructure surrounding their property. Here's why.
Businesses care about the health and well-being of the Canadian workforce. Employees that can afford the medicines as and when prescribed will be healthier, happier, and more productive. In this election year, it is time for Canada's business leaders to call for universal, public pharmacare.