Media Release – Sask. Health Coalition Calls for Universal Pharmacare in Sask. Govt.’s Throne Speech

March 7, 2011 – Saskatchewan Health Coalition News Release

Sask. Health Coalition Calls for Universal Pharmacare in Sask. Govt.’s Throne Speech

Saskatoon – The Saskatchewan Health Coalition (SHC) requests that the Government of Saskatchewan take a pro-active and leadership approach in the establishment of a Canadian universal pharmacare program.  The Health Coalition hopes that the province’s vision for a universal pharmacare program will be included in the Government’s throne speech.

The recent research report “The Economic Case of Universal Pharmacare” by Marc-André Gagnon, Assistant Professor at the School of Public Policy and Administration at Carleton University, recommends a universal pharmacare program for all Canadians. The report estimates that such a plan could save Canadians as much as $10.7 billion annually. The report concludes that “Canadians cannot afford not to have universal Pharmacare”.  Not only would such a plan save money, but also would make access to prescriptions drugs more equitable.

In the 1970’s Saskatchewan lead the country by establishing the Saskatchewan Prescription Drug Plan (SPDP). The plan included elements which provided for real price competition between the drug companies, saving the citizens of Saskatchewan millions of dollars in the reduced cost of prescription drugs.  Some of these savings continue to this day, although the total savings have been eroded by federal government action in extending greater patent protection to drug companies.  A pan-Canadian pharmacare program would be far more successful in reducing the cost of drugs than a single province acting alone.

Saskatchewan currently leads the country in economic growth. This is not the time to abandon the past leadership we have shown on social issues, but rather to re-affirm our leadership role. SHC would like to see our province actively lobbying the federal government and the other provincial governments to work towards pharmacare for all Canadians. There has been a lack of political enthusiasm for pharmacare due to a fear of escalating costs. We now have clear evidence that a universal pharmacare plan will save money.

A national pharmacare program would allow Saskatchewan to return to a plan where governments pay the full cost of prescription drugs for all citizens without fear of run-away costs.  It is in our best interests and the interests of all Canadians to adopt such a plan quickly.

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For further information contact Stan Rice, Board Member, SHC at 306-329-2495, Saskatoon