Donald Trump's solution to soaring American drug prices is to have other countries, such as Canada, raise their prices.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Many drugs prescribed to seniors have either not been adequately studied for this age group or have not been formally approved for the conditions they are being prescribed to treat. They are sometimes prescribed without any evidence they are safe and effective for them, and in some cases, even when they are known to present a possible risk (antipsychotics prescribed to older patients with dementia, for example).
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.
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.
Hundreds of codeine tablets stolen from the medicine cabinet of an elderly person living alone in a rural community. Hydromorphone tablets being distributed at weddings and high school parties. Fentanyl patches being cut up and sold for a profit on the street. This is the reality of the opioid crisis in Canada today.
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.