On 12 June 2019 the minister of health published the final report (A Prescription for Canada: Achieving Pharmacare for All) from the Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare.(1) The council has recommended that Canada should implement universal, single-payer, public pharmacare by enacting new legislation and proceed in a stepwise approach to implementation. The 2019 Federal Budget announced funding for some of the steps, including the formation of an arms-length national drug agency (for further details please see "Pharmacare advisory council delivers initial recommendations").
The final report outlines the following timeline for implementation:
- By 1 January 2022 the new agency should be responsible for the creation of a national formulary, listing essential medicines covering about half of all prescriptions and most major conditions.
- By 2027, this initial formulary should be expanded to a fully comprehensive formulary.
- By 1 January 2022 the report calls for the establishment of a strategy for expensive drugs for rare diseases.
The council recommends the enactment of new legislation that is separate and distinct from the Health Act. The legislation would outline how governments will work together and share costs, list federal responsibilities and include steps for opting in by provincial and territorial governments.
In a statement, the minister of health detailed that the government "will carefully review the Council's final report and its recommendations" over the coming months. However, Parliament has adjourned until 16 September 2019 and implementation of the council's recommendations may depend on what happens in the federal election, which is scheduled for 21 October 2019.
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