Bill Morneau released his fourth Federal Budget in the House of Commons at 4pm today.
Year in Review:
In 2018, the federal budget established an independent Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare. Over the past year, the Advisory Council, lead by Dr. Eric Hoskins, released a discussion paper in June 2018 to open up dialogues with Canadians on the need for National Pharmacare. On March 6, 2019, the Advisory Council provided an interim report to the Minister of Finance on how National Pharmacare should be implemented and how to pay for its incremental costs. This report was used to help guide the Federal Budget 2019.
Federal Budget 2019:
This year, the government’s Federal Budget unofficially kicks off the Liberal Party campaign. The Federal Budget 2019 focuses on three key issues supporting the initial interim recommendations from the Advisory Council through:
- The creation of a Canadian Drug Agency that will be used as a bulk buying power to negotiate drug prices
- New National Drug Formulary intended to provide for more consistency in drug coverage across Canada
- A National Strategy for Drugs for Rare Disease, to help Canadians access the drugs they need through a national strategy for high-cost drugs for rare diseases (investing up to $1 Billion over two years)
The government will also be investing in health care:
- Up to $150 million to the Terry Fox Research Institute, in order to establish a national Marathon of Hope Cancer Centres Network
- $50 million to support Canada’s first National Dementia Strategy to increase the quality of life of people living with dementia
What this means:
The Canadian Drug Agency is proposed to be a negotiating power for drug access in Canada, creating a national formulary list for publicly covered prescribed drugs. Questions arise over what this means for provincial and private drug plan access—details of which need more clarity. A national formulary that creates a level of coverage lower than what is often available through private plans would be of concern for Canadians. Albeit for Canadians without private drug coverage, or with inadequate coverage, a pan-Canadian approach to drug reimbursement may address a gap that needs to be filled.
The Federal Budget recognizes the need for Canadians to access high-cost drugs and will implement an official process to provide drugs for rare disease. The federal budget is investing $1 billion over two years, starting in 2022–23, with up to $500 million per year ongoing.
For more information regarding Federal Budget, Pharmacare, and how it may impact pharmaceutical market access please contact John-Paul Dowson at firstname.lastname@example.org
Budget documents: Budget 2019