A long-awaited report about setting up a catastrophic drug program in New Brunswick will be submitted to the Alward government on Wednesday night, according to Health Minister Ted Flemming.
Liberal health critic Donald Arseneault raised the issue in the legislature on Wednesday, questioning whether all New Brunswickers would be covered under such a plan, or only those who are uninsured or on a public plan.
Arseneault contends even people who have their own insurance may need help.
"Many of the insurance plans of the people who have a cap, if these people are caught in a catastrophic situation in terms of cancer drugs, diabetic drugs, MS drugs, or whatever, will these people be covered for catastrophic drugs?" he asked.
"I am talking about that 60 per cent of the population."
Flemming declined to discuss the issue until the provincial government has an opportunity to review the report's recommendations.
Committee struck in August 2010
The provincial government struck a committee to look into developing options for a prescription drug plan for uninsured residents in August 2010.
Dennis Furlong, the former provincial health minister, is the chair of the 11-member health benefits committee.
Catastrophic drug coverage ensures that no one is denied access to necessary, high-cost drugs based on where they live, or their ability to pay.
New Brunswick and P.E.I. are the only two provinces in Canada without a program to cover the cost of expensive drugs for people who need them to stay alive or to keep debilitating illnesses at bay.
Some New Brunswick patients face annual bills in the five- to six-figure range.
The provincial government has been facing mounting pressure to implement a catastrophic drug program in recent months.
Premier David Alward first promised a plan during the 2010 election and again reiterated his support for the initiative in the summer.
Last month, following the throne speech, Alward told reporters it's still a "significant priority" and he'd like to see it "sooner than later."
Earlier this month, Liberal Leader Brian Gallant had called on the government to clarify the scope of a catastrophic drug program and to commit to a timeline for the implementation.
More than a quarter of New Brunswickers have no prescription drug coverage, Lt. Gov. Graydon Nicholas has said.