2019 Federal Budget - National Pharmacare Program

2019 Federal Budget - National Pharmacare Program

Retirement and Benefits

Issue 19-05
Tue, 03/26/2019 - 02:00

With the tabling of the 2019 federal budget, the Government announced plans to move forward with the implementation of the National Pharmacare program. 

The measures in this program aim to make prescription drug prices more affordable and are based on: 

  • The creation of the Canadian Drug Agency
  • The implementation of a National Formulary for prescription drugs
  • The development of a national strategy for high-costing drugs for the treatment of rare diseases

The new Canadian Drug Agency will be responsible for: 

  • Evaluating the effectiveness of new drugs
  • Negotiating the price of prescription drugs on behalf of Canadians
  • Recommending which prescription drugs represent the best value-for-money, that is, the best cost effectiveness for the purpose of determining the drugs that would constitute the basis of the future National Formulary (a list)

Similar to the RAMQ’s list of medications, the National Formulary would include a list of prescription drugs. This list would be developed using data that will measure and evaluate the different prescription drugs available for the treatment of the same medical condition. Only prescription drugs that offer the best value-for-money would be included on this list. The National Formulary would standardize access to these prescription drugs across Canada. 

Finally, the government also announced plans to increase accessibility to costly prescription drugs for the treatment of rare diseases. To achieve this goal, the federal government wants to develop a national strategy for high-cost drugs for rare diseases. This measure would: 

  • Collect and evaluate data on these expensive drugs
  • Improve decision-making
  • Increase accessibility for all Canadians and ensure that effective treatments reach people with these rare diseases
  • Allow price negotiations with pharmaceuticals

At this time, it is still too early to assess the potential financial impact on public and private drug plans to allow for prescription drug prices to become more affordable. 

It should also be noted that these measures were influenced by consultations and the interim report from the Advisory Council on the Implementation of a National Pharmacare Program. A final report from the Advisory Council is expected this spring. Additional details on the implementation of these initiatives are expected in this report and we will follow this issue closely for our clients. 

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