National research body announces national pharmacare initiative

by Leo Almazora11 May 2018

The Conference Board of Canada has announced a new National Pharmacare Initiative (NPI), which was launched by the board’s Canadian Alliance for Sustainable Health Care (CASHC). The program aims to inform and support public discussion and debate on potential approaches to ensure universal access to pharmacare for Canadians.

In a statement, the conference board said several recent developments prompted it to focus on the issue. Among them was the appointment of a national advisory council to study the implementation of a national pharmacare program in the 2018 federal budget. More recently, the House of Commons’ Standing Committee on Health also called for a universal pharmacare program, as well as guaranteed access under the Canada Health Act.

“Many questions and concerns remain unanswered related to this issue, such as how Canada should define ‘national pharmacare’, what it should include, who should pay for it, how it should be administered, and which organizations need to be involved,” said Thy Dinh, director of Health Economics at the Conference Board of Canada. “The National Pharmacare Initiative will provide a single clearinghouse for current, reliable, and accurate information regarding proposals for a national pharmacare model.”

The NPI will feature a variety of research, dialogue, and consensus-building activities until the end of 2018. It will be led by a Steering Committee that includes representatives of patients, governments, industry, and health system leaders. The committee will be chaired by Fred Horne, health policy consultant and former Alberta Minister of Health.

The first initiative by the NPI is a Leader’s Roundtable on June 12. To be held in Ottawa, the roundtable will work toward consensus on key design principles for the development and evaluation of any universal pharmacare program. Included for discussion are foundational principles, access standards, criteria and methodology to evaluate funding and delivery models, and a proposed definition of “pharmacare” in a Canadian context. Following the event, the CASHC will produce a policy white paper and share it with key stakeholders, decision-makers, and the broader public.

“Other activities planned under NPI include evidence-informed commentary and other research and dialogue that will emerge over the course of the initiative,” the CASHC said on its website. “The NPI will culminate in the National Pharmacare Summit on November 22, 2018 in Toronto, with meeting proceedings to be published shortly after.”


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