On February 9 and 10, a group of academics and bureaucrats met at a conference in Vancouver to discuss what they called “best practices” in pharmacy management.
Among the “best practices” they heard about was forced medication-switching – by withholding funding, forcing patients to switch from a prescription drug they’re taking to a lower-priced alternative that may not work as well.
The conference was one of the steps on the road to making this policy more widespread in Canada (it’s already been started in a few cases) – without consulting the people most affected, the patients themselves.
Should decisions like these be made behind closed doors? Shouldn’t you have access to the best treatments available? Shouldn’t you have a say in policy?
Nearly 18 months have passed since government leaders promised to get working on a National Pharmaceutical Strategy that could have a dramatic impact on Canadian patients, and our access to life-saving and life-enhancing medicines and vaccines.
So what have they done? What are they planning to do?
No one really knows, except the bureaucrats. And they’re not saying. All their meetings are taking place behind closed doors.
By meeting in secret, governments are breaking their promise to Canadians. In a public statement in September, 1995, Health Canada promised, “Key stakeholders – including patient groups, health care providers, insurers and industry – will be engaged as part of the development and implementation process, to ensure the long-term success and viability of a National Pharmaceutical Strategy.”
But since then, government officials have done nothing to consult with patient groups, seniors, and health care practitioners. We are all being kept in the dark.
Why the secrecy? We can only assume that the governments are planning measures that may not improve patient care and may restrict access to the best medications.
If that’s not the case, then government officials should come clean. What are they hiding?
Last month we reported on a new federal policy that would force thousands of First Nations and Inuit Canadians with severe gastrointestinal problems to stop taking the medication that is working for them. (If you haven’t yet read our report, click here
We worried that this new policy might be the tip of the iceberg – that it might set a precedent for many other health conditions, affecting many more Canadians.
There is a dire need in this country for a Catastrophic Drug Plan – a plan that will ensure that Canadians who suffer from cancer or from chronic diseases like diabetes will be able to access the best available medicines and vaccines.
A patient who lives in Newfoundland or British Columbia – and all places in between – should have access to the best and most innovative medication. No one should be denied care because they cannot afford it.
Governments should be putting their focus on improving patient outcomes, rather than limiting access and simply trying to cut costs on the backs of patients.
Medicines and vaccines are cost effective, because they can help reduce wait times by keeping people out of the hospital, working and leading more productive lives.
The Ministerial Task Force of Federal, Provincial and Territorial Health Ministers (except Quebec) is due to report on June 30th on progress toward a National Pharmaceuticals Strategy.
Will this plan reflect your needs? Will it reflect the needs of Canadian patients?
We don’t know, because nobody is talking.
It’s time for the governments to keep their promise and start consulting with the patients and the practitioners who will be affected by a national pharmaceuticals plan. You can help!
Write your elected local member or your Minister of Health. It’s easy if you use our CARP E-VOICE system; just click on the name and you can quickly and conveniently send an email. Click here to go to CARP E-VOICE
Make your voice heard. Don’t let bureaucrats decide about your health behind closed doors.