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OTTAWA - The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) welcomes today’s Progress Report on the National Pharmaceutical Strategy (NPS) and supports the work to develop a strategy that will lead to more equitable access, better health care outcomes and better value for money spent on prescription drugs.

“Canadians have waited long enough. We need a national pharmacare program, said Paul Moist, CUPE national president. “Canada and the US are the only two industrialized countries without a national public drug plan. Justice Emmett Hall recommended that medicare be expanded to include universal drug coverage in 1964.  We’ve waited long enough!”

“We want a pharmacare program that will increase access for all Canadians.  But as a union, we also know that pharmacare will help relieve the rapidly increasing pressure on our negotiated benefits plans.  This gives us common cause with our employers on this issue,” said Claude Généreux, CUPE national secretary treasurer.

“We need a collaborative, national approach in order to develop a pharmacare program that will meet the goals of the NPS.  But there is no indication that the federal government is going to put any money on the table,” said Paul Moist, noting that currently the federal government only pays 2 per cent of drug expenditures.  “If the federal government isn’t willing to pay their fair share, it’s unlikely that the provinces will agree to ideas like a national drug formulary.

“We are calling on the federal government to commit financial resources to the development of a national pharmacare program.  We also call on the task force to look at proposals for first dollar universal coverage, instead of an approach that requires individuals or private plans to cover costs,” he said.

CUPE, along with health care coalition partners have developed a position paper called “More for Less: a National Pharmacare Program” (available at www.healthcoalition.ca/moreforless.pdf) which outlines proposals for:

  • a national formulary of essential drugs
  • no advertising
  • safe and effective prescribing
  • better regulation of drug prices
  • patent reform
  • first dollar universal coverage for essential drugs, with the costs shared between the federal and provincial governments
  • drug regulation that puts safety and efficacy first
  • Drug Safety Board to investigate safety issues post-marketing
  • accountable and transparent decision making

For further information:  Sandra Sorensen, National Communications Branch, 613-237-1590 ext. 334