Health ministers discuss national pharmacare program to pay for prescription drugs

TORONTO — The need for a national pharmacare program to pay the cost of prescription drugs is the focus of a meeting of eight of Canada’s provincial and territorial health ministers in Toronto today.

Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins, who is a physician, is a strong advocate for a universal pharmacare program to operate alongside the universal health-care system.

Hoskins says a public health-care system isn’t just about access to a family doctor or an MRI, but must also ensure patients can access medications that some simply cannot afford.

His counterparts from British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, and the Northwest Territories are meeting with academics and experts on pharmacare, with some of the ministers attending by phone.

The federal New Democrats support a national pharmacare program, which one study estimated could save taxpayers $11 billion a year by using bulk purchasing power to reduce drug costs and administration fees.

Canada is the only industrialized country with universal health insurance that does not offer universal prescription drug coverage.

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The Canadian Press

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