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We undervalue the systemic factors that influence how many patients receive an opioid prescription, and without an appreciation of those factors this crisis cannot be solved.
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The Ontario Liberals have just announced a pharmacare plan targeted at youths aged 25 and under which will provide full coverage for a wide range of prescription drugs. This is welcome news, to be sure. But we must ensure that policies enacted today carry forward to the longer-term goal of equitable and cost-effective health care.
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In light of National Pharmacist Day on Jan. 12, it's important to address the issue of medical adherence as it impacts the lives of millions of Canadians on a daily basis. It's a very real concern that pharmacists work to tackle every day.
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For six years the Ministry of Health has known that ePrescribe has, at little cost, saved lives and improved patient care. Sadly, it is but one of the many examples of the incredible waste and mismanagement of the health care system. Small dedicated investments are avoided, in order to create bigger projects such as the current medication management system, that cost exponentially more, but more importantly, provide jobs for bureaucrats. The fact that patients won't be helped is not relevant.
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Medications are a mainstay for managing chronic diseases, yet Canada is the only country in the world with a universal healthcare plan that does not include pharmacare for all its citizens. If you are not fortunate enough to have a benefits plan through your employer, drug costs are a significant barrier to best practice care for chronic disease. Demographics are such that drug plans are becoming increasingly expensive and, as costs go up, businesses are forced to make trade-offs that impact covered employees.
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.
The link between health and income is solid and consistent -- almost every major health condition has worse outcomes among people who live at lower income. I will continue to advise my patients to exercise more and eat healthier food, but this tax season I will also spend time prescribing tax returns.