Highlights from expert panel report on national pharmacare plan

Dr. Eric Hoskins, Chair of the Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare, is accompanied by Vincent Dumez, Member of the Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare, during a press conference at the National Press Theatre in Ottawa on Wednesday, June 12, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

OTTAWA - An expert panel is calling for a universal, single-payer national pharmacare plan. Here's what it recommends:

— The federal government should work with provinces and territories to create a national pharmacare program that works like public health care, in that it is "universal, comprehensive, accessible, portable and public."

— National pharmacare should be delivered by provinces and territories, governed by federal legislation and supported by federal funding in line with "agreed-upon national standards."

— The federal government should work with the provincial and territorial governments to begin to implement national pharmacare as soon as possible, with a new financing agreement to be developed jointly by governments and with Ottawa paying the incremental costs.

— Federal, provincial and territorial governments should work together to create an arm's-length drug agency to oversee national pharmacare, with its first task to be creating a list of drugs to be covered by the plan

— The initial formulary should be chosen from a list of essential medicines covering most major conditions, representing half of prescriptions, to be made available through national pharmacare by Jan. 1, 2022.

— A strategy and plan for funding access to expensive drugs for rare diseases to be implemented by Jan. 1, 2022.

— Co-payments under the plan should be limited to $2 per prescription for essential medicines and $5 per prescription for all other drugs on the national formulary with an annual limit of $100 per household. It says those living with disabilities, people on social assistance and low-income seniors should be exempt from these payments.

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