Yesterday, the Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare (the Council), led by Dr. Eric Hoskins, published their interim report to the federal government.

In the report, the Council states that in order to develop a national pharmacare program that is effective and efficient, 3 key items need to be put in place for it to succeed.

Those 3 foundational items are:

  1. Create a national drug agency
  2. Develop a comprehensive, evidence-based national formulary
  3. Invest in drug data and information technology (IT) systems.

National Drug Agency

The Council believes that even if a national pharmacare never materializes, there would be great benefit in consolidating the various agencies that are currently involved in prescription drug access.

The Council thinks the national drug agency would be designed to do the following:

  • Conduct health technology assessments to evaluate the clinical evidence and cost effectiveness
  • Conduct negotiations with pharmaceutical companies with regard to drug prices and indications
  • Monitor real-world data of prescription drugs (this would be particular relevant to smaller patient populations)
  • Develop and manage a national formulary
  • Support patients to maximize health outcomes.

The Council also believes that a national drug agency should include government representation from all levels, patients, clinical experts and others (e.g., researchers, advocates). Engagement between the federal government and Indigenous peoples will also be part of the agency.

National Formulary

The Council recommends the development of a comprehensive national formulary that would equalize coverage across Canada.

The Council also noted in its report that they must recognize the unique challenges associated with drugs for rare diseases. These drugs for small populations often represent the most innovative approaches to treatment but that innovation and limited patient population also means those drugs are expensive.

IT system

According to the Council, the federal government should “work with provincial and territorial governments to provide funding so that they may leverage and build on existing IT infrastructure to develop a comprehensive data collection process that covers the entire spectrum of care, from electronic prescribing to real-time claims adjudication to dispensing to post-marketing data collection.”

The Council believes that a comprehensive and coordinated IT system is critical to ensure that patients are receiving the appropriate drugs in a timely manner.

The final report is expected in the Spring of 2019.

Dr. Hoskins’ image courtesy of Alex Giubord