Expert panel recommends Canada implement single-payer pharmacare plan

The chair of an expert panel formed to advise the Liberal government on the creation of a national pharmacare system says it's a good time to show courage and do some ``nation-building.''

The panel is urging Ottawa to work with provincial and territorial governments to replace the current patchwork of prescription-drug plans with a pharmacare system much similar to the public health-care system.

The panel's final report recognizes the creation of a universal pharmacare program would have very significant fiscal implications, estimating annual costs of a single-payer national pharmacare plan would reach 15.3-billion dollars in 2027.

But chair Doctor Eric Hoskins says the price of doing nothing is too high.

The report recommends creating a new drug agency that would be responsible for developing a national list of prescription drugs, known as a formulary, beginning with common or so-called essential medicines by January 1st, 2022, and a complete list by 2027.

The report found drugs are the second-biggest expenditure in health care after hospitals, with Canadians spending 34-billion dollars on prescription medicines in 2018.