The 2018 Federal Budget announced the creation of an Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare (for further details please see "Federal Budget 2018 announces advisory council for national pharmacare programme"). On 6 March 2019 the advisory council delivered its interim report with three initial recommendations:

  • to create a national drug agency to oversee national pharmacare;
  • to develop a comprehensive, evidence-based list of prescribed drugs – a national formulary – to harmonise coverage across Canada; and
  • to invest in data on prescription drugs and IT systems.

The advisory council indicated that the final report should be issued in the coming months.

On 19 March 2019 the federal government delivered the 2019 Federal Budget, which reflects these recommendations. In particular, the government plans to create:

  • a new Canadian Drug Agency;
  • a national formulary; and
  • a national strategy for high-cost drugs for rare diseases "to help Canadians get better access to the effective treatments they need… an important first step in expanding drug coverage through federal support".

While the mandate for the Canadian Drug Agency is still in development, it will "be able to provide impartial and independent advice so that drug evaluation and price negotiation could be carried out by a single, coordinated entity".

For further information on this topic please contact Brandon Heard at Smart & Biggar/Fetherstonhaugh by telephone (+1 416 593 5514) or email ([email protected]). The Smart & Biggar/Fetherstonhaugh website can be accessed at