Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Catastrophic drug coverage for Canadians


This article below expresses the view of the federal Liberals led by Liberal leader Dion and the position of the federal Conservatives is unclear. This article is intended to get the issue in front of the public as since this position was taken there have been many changes in the cost of providing drugs for Canadian in after care. Added to this list must be Multiple Myeloma. I hope this furthers the debate and as we in Atlantic Canada suffer most under the current arrangements. Our organizations must respond positively and engage our governments so that we do not face the prospect of patients dying because their provincial governments can not or will not provide funding. I am a multiple myeloma patient and the revlimid that keeps me alive is provided though the generosity of the manufacturer Celgene

A plan for catastrophic drug coverage for Canadians

A new plan for catastrophic drug coverage would ensure Canadians living with serious life threatening or chronic illnesses – such as cancer, diabetes, and arthritis and multiple myeloma – can focus on their health instead of worrying about their finances.

All Canadians should have access to the drugs they need when they face serious illness but for many, the needed medications are so expensive or used in such quantities that they cause financial hardship.

More and more new treatments for serious illnesses are oral drug therapies, instead of hospital treatments, and so are not covered under the public health plans in most provinces. While they may be more targeted and effective than older therapies, these drugs are increasingly expensive.

For example:

The average drug treatment for kidney cancer costs between $6,000 to $7,000 per month;
It can cost between $40,000 to $60,000 for a standard course of treatment of colorectal cancer; and new, innovative medications for rheumatoid arthritis cost about $20,000 per year.

A new Liberal government will ensure that drug costs are not a barrier to quality health care by creating a $900 million catastrophic drug plan.
Creating a plan for catastrophic drug coverage will ensure all Canadians suffering from debilitating illnesses have access to much-needed drugs no matter where they live.

Currently, Canadians receive different coverage across the country depending on the province they live in. There is no minimum standard of coverage. As a result, coverage is not consistent across the country. The Liberal Party does not believe that Canadians should face dramatically different health coverage and financial burdens based solely on geography.

Canadians in the Atlantic provinces face particular hardship. This is unacceptable and betrays the principle of universality that has been at the core of our health policy for decades.

A new Liberal government will work with the provincial and territorial governments, in consultation with health experts and patients, to establish a level of catastrophic drug coverage that should be provided as a national minimum. Provinces that currently provide drug coverage that meet this new standard will be compensated by the federal government. For provinces that do not meet the standard, a new Liberal government will work with the provincial government to ensure that adequate coverage is provided.

Spending on prescription drugs is growing faster than any other category of health expenditures. After hospital care, Canada spends more on drugs than on another major category of the health care system. Since 2000, the total public and private expenditure on prescription drugs has grown by approximately 12 per cent annually.
With these increasing costs, provincial health spending is even further stretched and other health programs may suffer.

The federal government will assist the provinces to ensure Canadians across the country have consistent access to drugs.

Provincial and territorial health ministers called for the federal government to provide protection against catastrophic expenses at a meeting earlier this month.

We agree with the provinces and territories that catastrophic drug coverage is as essential to Canadians as physician and hospital coverage and agree that the federal government has a funding responsibility to establish a minimum standard of drug coverage for all Canadians.

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