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Baby boomers looking to right public health care, not drain it by Cy Frank

Baby boomers looking to right public health care, not drain it by Cy Frank

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Published by EvidenceNetwork.ca
Should we baby boomers be f eeling guilty now that everyone else seems to have f inally clued into the developed world’s worst-kept secret: there are lots of us,
we didn’t have enough children of our own to replenish the taxpayer base, and we didn’t contribute enough in taxes to cover our future health needs as increasingly frail citizens.
Should we baby boomers be f eeling guilty now that everyone else seems to have f inally clued into the developed world’s worst-kept secret: there are lots of us,
we didn’t have enough children of our own to replenish the taxpayer base, and we didn’t contribute enough in taxes to cover our future health needs as increasingly frail citizens.

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Published by: EvidenceNetwork.ca on Mar 07, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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06/03/2013

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umanitoba.ca
http://umanitoba.ca/outreach/evidencenetwork/archives/8097
Canadians pay too much for generic drugs
Time to turn savings from generics into drug coverage for all
 A version of this commentary appeared in the Hill Times, Vancouver Province and the Toronto Star 
Would you pay $60 for a large coffee at Tim Horton’s? How about$500,000 for a Toyota Corolla? You probably wouldn’t, but consider this: compared to other countries, this is how inflated Canadian pricesare for some generic prescription drugs.That our generic drug prices are high is no great secret, and recentlynearly every provincial government has taken steps to lower prices.However, instead of leveraging competition to get lower pricing, thusfar our governments have stuck to their old — and arbitrary — formulaof paying a percentage of the equivalent brand name price. Ontariohas gone the furthest and reduced prices to 25% of the equivalentbrand name drug.Paying one-quarter of the brand price might sound like a great deal,but it isn’t.This week the Centre for Health Services and Policy Research at the University of British Columbiapublished a paper where I demonstrate that Ontario pays nearly a quarter of a billion dollars more every year for the top 100 generic drugs compared to prices in other countries.Since Ontario has the lowest prices in Canada, this means every other province is overpaying too.The amount we’re overpaying varies by drug. For some drugs, the difference is huge: while Ontario pays 62.5cents for one 20mg tablet of simvastatin, New Zealand pays 2.4 cents. In fact, the price in New Zealanddropped to 1.8 cents after the research for the paper was completed, while Ontario’s stayed the same. Thatmeans Ontarians now pay 36 times more than New Zealanders for the same drug: just like the costly coffee,or the half-million dollar compact car.The good news is that change should be coming soon.In June, Canadian premiers agreed to flex their collective buying power to drive down generic prices usingcompetitive purchasing strategies. This week, the Ministers of Health from across Canada are meeting inHalifax to discuss the details. This is sound policy, and is long overdue.The savings possible from these changes would be positive and almost immediate — and would provideessential new health dollars that could be reinvested back into the system.Here’s a sobering statistic: while Canadian medicare covers medically necessary hospital and physicianservices, we still pay around $5 billion out of our own pockets for prescription drugs every year. The result: 1in 10 Canadians can’t afford their prescription drugs, and others are facing grim trade-offs between buyingtheir needed prescription drugs, and food or rent.Health policy advisors and academics have been proposing solutions to gaps in our drug coverage for decades. Many proposals to date have suggested massive changes to our complex and multi-billion dollar 

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