The federal government says it will join the provinces and territories in bulk-buying prescription drugs to obtain lower prices.

The federal drug plan includes Canada's military, veterans, the RCMP, First Nations and Inuit, federal inmates and refugees. 

Health Minister Jane Philpott announced Tuesday the federal drug plan will participate in an alliance that negotiates to lower prices for brand-name drugs.

So far, the pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance has completed more than 89 negotiations on brand-name drugs and achieved price reductions on 14 generic drugs, resulting in combined savings of more than $490 million annually.

"I am impressed and encouraged by the cost savings that the pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance has achieved to date," Philpott said in a release.

British Columbia Health Minister Terry Lake said Ottawa's participation in the alliance will increase drug purchasing power for provinces, territories and the federal government.

By combining their negotiating power, the governments hope to save money for publicly funded drug programs, increase access to clinically effective treatments and make prices and coverage more consistent.

The country's ministers are gathering in Vancouver this week to discuss issues such as chronic diseases, drug costs and funding formulas.

With files from The Canadian Press