Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
September 20, 2010
Health alliance favours drug plan
CANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS
OTTAWA - The Catholic Health Alliance of Canada (CHAC) welcomes the findings of a new study that calls for universal public pharmacare.
The study, entitled The Economic Case for Universal Pharmacare, says Canada could lop $4.48 billion off the current $25.1 billion spent annually on prescription drugs with moderate revisions to how drugs are priced.
The study by Marc-Andre Gagnon, assistant professor at the Carleton University School of Public Policy, estimates cost savings could increase to $10.7 billion if policies were implemented to reduce drug prices.
The study also takes aim at the patchwork approach of private and public plans, arguing Canada pays between 16 and 40 per cent too much for prescription drugs relative to other industrial countries.
"What's being proposed is in line with what we've advocated for the past 15 years," CHAC executive director James Roche said in an interview.
The CHAC has been advocating the integration of prescription drugs into medicare since 1994, Roche said.
Roche said numerous studies have shown that costs of hospitalization and doctors have stabilized while those for pharmaceuticals have "sky-rocketed."
"The way we pay for prescription drugs is broken," said Joel Lexchin, MD, a professor at School of Health Policy and Management at York University, who endorsed the study.
"Politicians hide behind the excuse that universal public coverage is too expensive."
"This study exposes that excuse as a fallacy. We can save money and cover everyone in the country," he said. "Medicare works and Pharmacare is no different."
"Canada has an American-style system of paying for drugs, and it yields American results - inequity, waste and high costs," said Harvard economist Robert Evans, who also endorsed the report.
"Marc-Andre Gagnon provides a comprehensive analysis of the major benefits to Canadians from a true pharmacare system of universal, first-dollar public coverage."
"To date, however, private insurers, Big Pharma, anti-tax ideologues and apathetic governments have kept this beyond our reach," Evans said.
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