Let’s Talk Prescriptions, Canadian Style

I understand the free market system, I really do. I understand the necessity of incentive and that companies are accountable to their shareholders. I get it. But I also think there are limits.

I recently heard some very convincing arguments for why we should privatize healthcare and save taxpayer money. Those who can afford insurance shouldn’t be responsible for those who can’t. It was hard to hear. Thankfully I then came upon this article by Marc-André Gagnon which reinforced my beliefs that privatizing everything does not lead to the greatest benefits.

He points out that Canada has the fastest rising drug costs in the world, over 10 percent per year. Where is it less expensive? Countries with universal pharmacare (i.e. France, Britain, Sweden). A shift to universal Pharmacare in Canada? Could save at least 2.9 billion (more details in the article).

What I felt was the most significant point in the article was that drugs are not necessarily prescribed because of efficacy but because of drug company promotional campaigns. What we need is a shift to something called ‘evidence-based medicine’, this means drugs are prescribed because they will help you not because they are the latest invention.

BC’s Therapeutics Initiative encourages evidence based medicine:

“Because of this, not only do British Columbians have the best therapeutic choices and the best health outcomes in Canada, they also pay on average 8.2 per cent less per capita for their drugs”

That sounds pretty good to me.


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