Politics & Prescriptions: a town hall

Should Canada have a national drug care plan? WCBA hosts a live town hall in Toronto on Tuesday, September 29.

This Saturday and Sunday, White Coat Black Art will feature highlights of this past week's town hall, Politics & Prescriptions.

Then on Monday October 5 at 9:00 pm, tune into CBC Radio One for a special one-hour program, White Coat, Black Art presents "Politics & Prescriptions: Should Canada Have a National Drug Plan?" 

Hear Canadians stories, plus experts opinions on the pros and the cons of pharmacare.  The panel is moderated by Dr. Brian Goldman, and includes some of Canada's leading experts: 

(left to right) Dr. Danielle Martin, Helen Stevenson, Dr. Merrilee Fullerton

Dr. Danielle Martin, a family doctor and a VP at Women's College Hospital, founder of Canadian Doctors for Medicare  and co-author of Pharmacare 2020: The Future of Drug Coverage in Canada

Helen Stevenson, President & CEO of Reformulary Group Inc.  former Ontario Assistant Deputy Minister of Health and Executive Officer of Ontario Public Drug Programs;

Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Family Physician Emeritus, and an active writer/blogger  who focuses on health care and its ongoing transformation.

We hear from patients -- including one young man who pays $1200 a month for drugs to treat his juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Industry stakeholders share their views including pharmacists and representatives of the insurance industry.

The four main political parties weigh in -- do they think now is the right time to demand more of our universal health care system, or do they think there are other options? 

We're talking pharmacare because we know that health care is one of the top issues on the minds of Canadians,and yet it's hardly being talked about during the federal election campaign. When it comes to pharmacare specifically, a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal in March of this year showed that a national pharmacare plan could be launched and save money as opposed to costing taxpayers.

Pharmacare is also a story of incredible hardship among ordinary Canadians.  A recent study shows that the number of Canadians missing prescriptions because of costs is one in five, nearly double the previous estimates. It's not hard to see why. There's a growing list of miracle prescription drugs that are far beyond the price range of nearly all Canadians. For example, drugs that stop the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis can cost tens of thousands a month.  

According to a recent Angus Reid Poll, 91 per cent of Canadians favour a national pharmacare plan.  Countries around the world - including Sweden and New Zealand, have successful national pharmacare programs.  In fact, Canada is the only G7 nation with publicly-funded health care that does not have pharmacare.

Still, there are critics who say we should pay attention to what happened in Quebec, where the provincial drug benefit plan is straining to keep going financially.  They also say that Canada is likely to be a flop at negotiating cheaper drug prices - an essential step to making pharmacare work in this country. 


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