National Pharmacare: Health minister Jane Philpott tells doctors she can’t make any promises – Montreal Gazette

August 24, 2016

Federal health minister Jane Philpott said Tuesday a national Pharmacare program is likely years away because of more pressing priorities like primary care, improved health for indigenous people, better care for those with mental illness, and more home care for seniors.

“I do not want to promise anything I don’t know I can deliver on,” she told about 600 delegates and observers at the annual Canadian Medical Association meeting in Vancouver.

“National Pharmacare, you know if you’ve seen my mandate letter (from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau), does have to do with the cost of drugs and there’s impressive work we can do in the next few years to drive down costs,” she said. Philpott suggested the government will, for now, focus on bulk buying, price regulations and negotiations with pharmaceutical companies, rather than a full program covering the costs of drugs for those who can’t afford them.

Philpott, a doctor, said she “gets” how a Pharmacare program would be beneficial, but there are other problems like “horrendous and unacceptable gaps in care for indigenous people and we need frank conversation about where our priorities should be.”

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