• NAFTA will undermine health unless Canada resists monopolies on medicines

    There are two potential changes to NAFTA that threaten to derail progress toward affordable access to medicines: First, U.S. trade representatives are advancing Big Pharma’s demand for more restrictive intellectual property rules, pushing longer patent terms and “data exclusivity” rules… Second, business lobbies are pushing hard to maintain and expand the widely-denounced “investor-state dispute settlement” mechanism currently found in NAFTA.

  • Prescription for healthier population: spend more on social services

    A one-cent increase in social spending for every dollar spent on health care increases life expectancy and cuts premature death, study shows… Dutton and his fellow researchers looked at health and social spending in nine provinces over 31 years from 1981 to 2011 and compared it to three population health measures: potentially avoidable death, life expectancy and infant mortality… “More social spending was associated with a more positive outcome. Life expectancy went up and potentially avoidable mortality went down,”

  • Hallway medicine: Do we really need more hospital beds?

    In Ontario alone, there are almost 4,000 “alternate level of care” (ALC) patients (7,500 Canada-wide), an Orwellian euphemism used to describe people who have been discharged but continue to live in hospitals because they have nowhere else to go, for lack of long-term-care beds and home-care spots. Surely before we start reopening dilapidated old hospitals, we should start by getting ALC patients into more appropriate care.

  • Bernie Sanders lauds Canadian health-care system in Toronto speech

    “if you want to expand and protect health care or education, there are people out there in every country in the world who think it is more important to give tax breaks to the richest people … what we need to do is take those oligarchs on.” … What went mostly unsaid during Mr. Sanders’s speech is that while Canada’s health-care system can look great compared with that of the United States, it can still fare poorly next to comparable countries.

  • It’s time for a smarter approach to drugs

    The harm-reduction approach cannot fully succeed until we stop treating people addicted to drugs as criminals… The war on drugs has driven up the cost of policing, contributed to a national crisis of court delays, compounded racial and class inequities and unnecessarily criminalized people living with physical and mental illness. All that, without delivering any of the promised benefits for public health or public safety.

  • Doctors deserve a better deal, not tax dodges

    … physicians (like lawyers) can access tens of thousands of dollars in RRSP tax shelters beyond the reach of most workers. The lack of physician pensions is a choice they made collectively a half-century ago, when they adamantly refused to be deemed government employees despite earning virtually all their income from public funds in a now archaic fee-for-service model. That income anachronism is debilitating for all sides — patients, doctors and the government.

  • Price tag on national pharmacare will dissuade Ottawa

    A national pharmacare program could save $4.2-billion a year, according to a new report by the Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer… But the 93-page report is math-heavy and politics-light… No government in its right mind is going to take on $20-billion a year in additional costs – especially when it involves the federal government absorbing $13-billion in provincial expenses… If Canada is, like most other Western countries, going to embrace pharmacare, it’s going to have to be a national program, not a federal one.

  • Gene editing is not about ‘designer babies’

    In a scientific first, researchers were able to edit human embryos and remove a disease-causing mutation… But… we are not on the verge of designer babies. If anything, this study shows that modifying embryos to give them more desirable traits is more difficult than believed… The science is advancing at breakneck speed. The challenge is for ethics and the law to keep up. It’s worth noting that this type of experiment is illegal in Canada

  • Ontario to cover cost of abortion pill starting Aug. 10

    The abortion pill Mifegymiso will be dispensed for free to patients across the province starting Aug. 10, Ontario’s Minister of the Status of Women said Thursday. The drug, known internationally as RU-486, currently costs $300. Eliminating the fee for the drug is “about fairness, it’s about safety, and it’s the right thing to do,” … Although the drug will now be dispensed without cost, patients will still need a prescription.

  • To understand U.S. health care, think like an American

    Canada spends roughly half as much as the United States on health care, yet has comparable or better outcomes on most health barometers… The widely accepted view that more care is not necessarily better care has yet to penetrate the American psyche. Those with good insurance use it to the max. Doctors and hospitals are complicit in this overconsumption, treating the well-insured as cash cows.