Premiers on right track on drug costs

TheStar.com – Opinion – Letters – Re: The premiers vs. drug costs, Editorial Aug. 15
Published On Wed Aug 18 2010.   John G. Abbott

We applaud Canada’s premiers for joining forces and moving forward to establish an alliance for the common purchasing of drugs, medical supplies and health equipment. This is long overdue.

In fact, our first ministers agreed to address this opportunity back in 2004 with the advent of the national pharmaceuticals strategy. Now, with an aging population and an increasing number of individuals living with multiple chronic illnesses, more Canadians will need access to prescription medications. This becomes easier to achieve if the price of drugs and medical supplies can be made cheaper through joint purchasing by provinces and territories.

As the Health Council said in its recently released discussion paper, “Generic Drug Pricing and Access in Canada,” governments are major players in the drug market, simply because they are a major purchaser of drugs. With such combined purchasing power, governments can effectively reduce the cost of drugs and help ensure that Canadians have a sustainable health care system.

We view this alliance as a concrete step that reaffirms the premiers’ commitment to achieving this goal. Moreover, this initiative should be seen as complementary to the decisions of provinces like Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec which recently took major steps to reduce the cost of generic drugs. It shows that with leadership positive changes are possible to control health system costs while improving access and maintaining quality.

Now, we await the details of this new national purchasing alliance.

John G. Abbott, CEO, Health Council of Canada, Toronto

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