New Brunswick's health minister says he expects to begin rolling out parts of a catastrophic drug program as early as this fall.
Hugh Flemming said Tuesday a complete prescription and catastrophic drug program will be in place before the next election in September 2014.
"I'll set my career on it," Flemming told the legislature. "We're going to have a prescription drug plan so that every New Brunswicker will have prescription drug coverage. The expensive drugs will be covered."
Liberal health critic Donald Arseneault said the Progressive Conservative government is delaying the program to buy votes ahead of the election.
But Flemming said time is needed to make sure the program is right.
"We're also including hypertension, diabetes and all the other kinds of drugs so that all New Brunswickers in need, who have to have drug coverage, are going to get it," Flemming said. "It's going to give us preventative medicine and save us a ton of money down the road."
$500K a year for drug
Justin Manuel of Riverview has a life-threatening blood disease called paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria — or PNH — and requires the drug Soliris that costs $500,000 per year.
The 21-year-old Mount Alison University student said he's relieved to hear that catastrophic drug coverage is coming. He said that once he leaves university he will no longer be covered under a drug plan through his father's employer.
"If anything happened and I couldn't stay as a full-time student, I wouldn't be covered by his plan anymore, so that puts a lot of pressure on me," Manuel said. "I just want the plan to come out as soon as possible."
Last December, the New Brunswick government tabled a report that recommended a mandatory prescription drug insurance plan to cover the estimated 70,000 families who have no drug coverage.
New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island are the only two provinces without a catastrophic drug plan.
The P.E.I. government has promised a catastrophic drug program to begin on Oct. 1.