WATCH: Advisory panel calls for new agency to oversee national pharmacare program

A federally struck expert panel says the government should create a new agency to oversee rolling out a national pharmacare program.

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

The government says it will consider the panel’s interim recommendations while it awaits a final report due this spring.

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.