• Bill Morneau sends a mixed message on national pharmacare

    What’s irresponsible is preserving the current system, or amending it in a way that keeps drug costs uncommonly high (Canada has one of the highest per-capita rates of pharmaceutical spending in the OECD). Achieving universal coverage without government bulk-buying is likely to keep the cost curve straining upward… a wholesale reworking of Canada’s drug regime seems like a credible possibility. The Finance Minister should let his new pharmacare czar go where the evidence leads.

  • Morneau prefers a public-private pharmacare plan, but government health committee may disagree

    … the only groups opposing a universal plan are those with skin in the game: private insurers, drug companies and pharmacists, who stand to lose if drug prices fall under a public plan… the House of Commons health committee prepares to table its own report on a national pharmacare program later this month, after nearly two years of study… it’s likely the committee members will recommend some form of universal plan, which could place them at odds with the finance minister’s vision

  • Bill Morneau’s unwise decision to backtrack on pharmacare

    When Canadian medicare was being debated in the 1960s, a similar division arose between those who wanted a full-scale universal program and those who, like Morneau today, merely wanted to fill in the gaps… eventually, the medicare universalists won. Both politically and logically their arguments simply made more sense.

  • Bill Morneau is wrong to rule out universal pharmacare

    There will be no pharmacare “plan,” he said on Wednesday, but instead a pharmacare “strategy” that “deals with the gaps,” is “fiscally responsible” and “doesn’t throw out the system that we currently have.” True to his government’s preference for targeted over universal programs, the finance minister seemed to be saying that supplements to the current dysfunctional mess will have to suffice.

  • Hoskins steps down as health minister to head national pharmacare strategy

    The federal government is eyeing a new, national pharmacare program and will name departing Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins to lead the effort. Hoskins, a doctor who was the key architect of the province’s OHIP+ providing free prescriptions for youth, announced Monday afternoon that he was stepping down as minister and MPP for St. Paul’s, effective immediately… “In politics in Canada, Eric Hoskins in particular has been the most ardent and most articulate champion of a universal pharmacare system”

  • Purdue Pharma given free reign in Canada as it is sanctioned in the United States

    Several American states have already successfully sued Purdue Pharma and others may follow… We have the same tragic opioid crisis here in Canada relative to the U.S. — 3,000 deaths per year in Canada compared to 30,000 in the United States — and trail only the U.S. when it comes to opioid prescribing rates. But unlike our neighbours, Canadian governments have not taken similar actions against Purdue Pharma. Canadians pay for this inaction.

  • 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.