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National Pharmacare Update: Publication of the final report of the Advisory Council

Authored byUrszula Wojtyra

On June 12, 2019, the Minister of Health tabled the final report, A Prescription for Canada: Achieving Pharmacare for All, from the Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare (the Council) (see also: news release and backgrounder). The Council recommends that Canada implement universal, single-payer, public pharmacare by enacting new legislation, and proceeding in a stepwise approach to implementation. As reported previously, the 2019 Federal Budget announced funding for some of the steps, including the formation of an arms-length national drug agency.

The final report outlines a timeline for implementation. By January 1, 2022, the new agency would be responsible for the creation of a national formulary, listing essential medicines covering about half of all prescriptions and most major conditions. By 2027, this initial formulary would be expanded to a fully comprehensive formulary. Also by January 1, 2022, the report calls for the establishment of a strategy for expensive drugs for rare diseases.

The Council recommends the enactment of new legislation, separate and distinct from the Canada Health Act. The legislation would outline how governments will work together and share costs, list federal responsibilities and include steps for opting in by provincial and territorial governments.

In a statement, the Minister of Health stated that the government “will carefully review the Council’s final report and its recommendations” over the coming months. However, Parliament has adjourned until September 16, 2019, and implementation of the Council’s recommendations may depend on what happens in the federal election, which is scheduled for October 21, 2019.

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