Submission to the Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare

Posted: 10-10-2018

Executive Summary

On behalf of the patient community, the Health Charities Coalition of Canada (HCCC) thanks the Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare for the continued involvement of patients in its consultation process.

We were pleased to support the Council in organizing an all-day patient consultation with individual patients and patient groups. Feedback from the patient community on Health Canada’s national pharmacare discussion paper and the vision for a robust national pharmacare program that meets patients’ needs is essential for a successful program. The deliberate inclusion of patients at this roundtable and the Council’s consultations across Canada was an important signal that patients and patient voices will be valued and form the foundation of the Council’s recommendations.

HCCC believes that the Government of Canada has a lead role to play in developing a national pharmacare program that addresses diverse and important gaps in the healthcare system through careful attention to its implementation. A national pharmacare program delivered through both public and private payers can build on the benefits of the current approach while addressing gaps and making the system more accessible for patients by providing Canadians with improved access to a broad range of evidence-based therapies.

In addition, a holistic approach can improve patient access to medicines through a less costly and burdensome administrative process than is currently in place. Further, a national pharmacare program that is implemented in full partnership with the provincial and territorial governments will help to ensure that pharmacare is integrated with provincial and territorial healthcare systems.

Health charities represent two important perspectives on patient access to medicines:

(1)    Most of our members have a mission to improve the health of people affected by diseases, and they often depend on prescription drugs to live longer, better and healthier lives; and

(2)    Patient organizations are funders of research to improve therapeutic options.

This broad and important perspective is reflected in the many members of HCCC who have developed this submission.  HCCC has identified 6 key patient-centered recommendations for inclusion in the implementation of a national pharmacare program.



Recommendation 1:A national pharmacare program should have a clear and patient-focused objective: to improve health outcomes for all people in Canada.

Recommendation 2:Ensure that patient-centred principles are adopted and used to inform the design, implementation and delivery of a national pharmacare program.

Recommendation 3:A national pharmacare program needs to ensure that all Canadians have access to prescription medication coverage – including all ages and those with acute, chronic and episodic illnesses, including rare diseases.

Recommendation 4:A national pharmacare program needs to ensure patients are able to access all drugs approved by Health Canada – if not on the national formulary, then via private insurance plans or through separately adjudicated access programs that consider a patient’s specific circumstances. Reducing access that citizens currently have to prescription medicines is counterproductive and creates uncertainty for all people in Canada.

Recommendation 5:Funding pharmacare should be shared across different payers to balance sustainability and affordability with improved access to treatments and patient choice.

Recommendation 6:Shared leadership among federal, provincial and territorial governments is essential to creating a national pharmacare program that is integrated with existing provincial and territorial health systems. Patient partnerships enable their unique perspectives to be incorporated throughout the design and implementation of the program.


Ultimately, these recommendations will help to ensure that patient perspectives are incorporated in the design, implementation and delivery of a comprehensive and equitable national pharmacare program across the country. Canada’s health charities want to help build a program that improves health outcomes for patients of all ages and with all types of diseases. While the development of a national pharmacare program holds great promise to improve the lives of patients in Canada, a program for patients must be designed with patients.

 We look forward to our input being reflected in the Council’s report to the federal Health and Finance Ministers and remain available to discuss our recommendations.

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