Canada needs new agency to oversee pharmacare program, panel says

Liberals, NDP set to promise a universal, public program if elected this fall

A federally struck expert panel says the government should create a new agency to oversee rolling out a national pharmacare program.

The panel made two other interim recommendations Tuesday morning, including developing a national list of drugs so coverage is the same across the country and spending to gather better data on prescription medications.

READ MORE: Prescription drug payments eliminated for low-income B.C. residents

The government says it will consider the panel’s interim recommendations while it awaits a final report due this spring.

By fall, pharmacare is to be dangled in front of voters with the New Democrats promising a universal, public program if elected and the Liberals are expected to make a similar campaign pledge.

The Canadian Institute for Health Information says drugs are the fastest-growing component in health spending but unlike hospital care and doctors’ visits, most people’s medication needs aren’t covered by public health insurance.

An analysis by the parliamentary budget officer estimated a broad coverage regime would cost $20 billion a year.

The Canadian Press

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