Monday, April 15, 2024

Pharmacare bill paves the way for coverage of several contraceptives and diabetes medications in Canada

Ottawa (Feb 29) – Canada’s Health Minister Mark Holland today introduced legislation (Bill C-64) proposing guidelines for the first phase of national universal pharmacare in the country which will cover several contraception and diabetes medications.

Holland also announced the federal government’s plan to establish a fund to support supplies that diabetics require to manage and monitor their condition and administer their medication, such as syringes and glucose test strips.

“Each and every Canadian should have access to the prescription drugs they need,” Holland said in a statement. “That’s why we’re working with our partners towards the first phase of national universal pharmacare. This important next step will provide universal access to contraception and diabetes medication that will be transformational in improving health outcomes in Canada.”

Coverage for contraceptives will mean that 9 million Canadians of reproductive age will have better access to contraception and reproductive autonomy, reducing the risk of unintended pregnancies and improving their ability to plan for the future, a statement from Health Canada said.

The health department says that cost has consistently been identified as the single most important barrier to access to these medications and the cost is unevenly borne by women and gender diverse Canadians.

Improving access to diabetes medications will help improve the health of 3.7 million Canadians living with diabetes and reduce the risk of serious life-changing health complications such as blindness or amputations. One in four Canadians with diabetes have reported not following their treatment plan due to cost.

The NDP, which arm twisted the Liberal government for national pharmacare, says that these measures can save women and gender-diverse people around $200 a year for contraception and around $1,500 per year for those impacted by diabetes.

Bill C-64 also provides that the new Canadian Drug Agency work towards the development of a national formulary, develop a national bulk purchasing strategy, and support the publication of a pan-Canadian strategy regarding the appropriate use of prescription medications.

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