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Health care and drug coverage is often used as a political football, and coverage of medicines can make an easy and convenient target as a place to find short-term cost savings despite the need for a broader discussion on overall system reform.
The TPP appears to pose risks to our ability to afford to provide needed medications Canadians, and others around the world. When the free and open debate on this agreement is held, the impact on health care must be taken into account.
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"Sometimes the only way to afford medication is to buy it from another country,"
A decade ago, the average bill for a cancer patient's drugs amounted to $2,000 or $3,000 a month, says Dr. Maureen Trudeau, head of medical oncology and hematology at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. "Now some of the medications cost $6,000, $8,000 or $10,000 a month," she says. Despite their big price tags, a lot of newer drugs don't actually cure cancer. They simply help the patient to live longer -- sometimes by just a few months -- or will ease the discomfort caused by the disease.
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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.
By eliminating the waste inherent in private insurance and by improving therapeutic choices, implementing universal Pharmacare could save Canadians billions of dollars a year.