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B.C. health minister says 'We're ready' for national pharmacare program

Last Updated Jun 12, 2019 at 3:58 pm PDT

FILE: Health Minister Adrian Dix speaks at a news conference on April 4, 2018. (Kurtis Doering, NEWS 1130 Photo)
Summary

The recommendations estimate $5 billion could be saved on drug costs annually

B.C. has recently made moves to reduce costs, like using biosimilar drugs

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – British Columbia’s health minister says the province is ready for a move to a national pharmacare program, and has been for a long time.

Adrian Dix says he’s prepared to work with the federal government make the change happen.

“Not just to expand coverage, which is really important and I am very encouraged by people’s willingness to consider that,” he says. “But also we need to reduce costs because we are going to get many more new drugs that are going to have high costs and we want to be able to afford those for people.”

RELATED: Federal advisory council recommends government introduce universal, public pharmacare plan

A federal advisory council on pharmacare recommended on Wednesday that the federal government set up a universal public system to cover prescription drugs for all Canadians.

The recommendations estimate $5 billion could be saved on drug costs annually, but the overall cost would be around $15 billion.

“Obviously, while that may save money overall it will cost government more money,” Dix says. “So the question [of] where to get that money will be an important one.” He says currently provinces pay $13 billion, while the federal government pays $850 million.

Dix adds moving to a national program would build on recent moves B.C. has taken to reduce costs, like using biosimilar drugs and patented price reviews.