More Recommendations for National Pharmacare

The ball continues to roll on rolling out a national pharmacare program.

Former Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins and chair of a federally struck expert panel, is recommending the government create a new agency to oversee rolling out a national drug program.

He says his panel has heard loud and clear that the current system of prescription drug coverage is inadequate, unsustainable and leaves too many Canadians behind.

The panel has made two other interim recommendations, including developing a national list of drugs so coverage is the same across the country and spending on the gathering of better data on prescription medications.

By fall, pharmacare is to be dangled in front of voters with the New Democrats promising a universal, public program if elected and the Liberals are expected to make a similar campaign pledge.

The Canadian Institute for Health Information says drugs are the fastest-growing component in health spending but unlike hospital care and doctors' visits, most people's medication needs aren't covered by public health insurance.

An analysis by the parliamentary budget officer estimated a broad coverage regime would cost $20-billion a year.


— With files from The Canadian Press