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OTTAWA - The Canadian Health Coalition (CHC) has sent an open letter today to Prime Minister Stephen Harper urging the federal government to stop stalling and start working with provincial and territorial governments to bring in a universal public Pharmacare program.

According to a new report by Professor Marc-André Gagnon, entitled The Economic Case for Universal Pharmacare, proper policies create potential savings of between ten and forty per cent of total drug expenditures. Savings could be achieved through buying in bulk, price negotiations, drug review, allowing more generics, eliminating duplication, and diminishing administrative costs linked to both public and private plans.

Total savings are pegged at between 4.5 and 10.7 billion dollars.

Whatever the right wing politicians and the business community say, the fact remains that publicly run services are more efficient and cost-effective than those handed over to the private sector,” said CUPE national president Paul Moist in support of a universal plan.

In the case of Pharmacare, more government intervention and regulation, not less, would save approximately ten billion dollars. That is money that could be directed to other health services,” he said.

At CUPE, we believe that not only can we afford a new universal Pharmacare program, we cannot afford to go without one any longer. With drug costs running out of control, the current situation is untenable. Universal Pharmacare would cover everyone and cost less. What are we waiting for?”

Meanwhile, Moist is urging federal and provincial health ministers to deal with the issue. The politicians begin two days of meetings in St. John’s today.