Canada’s Drug Scene: National Pharmacare, Drug Shortages and More

Denis Morrice

National Pharmacare: Dr. Hoskins is now on a roll with the National Pharmacare initiative! He has selected his impressive Advisory Council with a very busy consultative process which will ensure Canada wide input from every healthcare and public constituency concerned with access to medication.

Check out: and find “Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare” and start by scrolling down and reading ‘Discussion paper’ under “For more information”. You will appreciate the political dynamics and the challenges that the Council will have to confront. I’m sure the Council will appreciate your feedback to the major questions being asked in their survey – you are living with the drug issues every day.

Let’s at least get some Principles in place e.g. universal coverage based on medical need, equity across Canada, therapeutic options, timely access, lower cost for all…let the politicians and bureaucrats finger out how to meet these principles.

Drug Shortages: It’s a global issue and in Canada it is getting worse. Drug shortages usually last about 4 to 5 months; however, Myochrisine as an example is expected to be available by September 2019. All Canadians are impacted one way or the other – Patients re: stress and health, Doctors, Pharmacists re: time and cost; Tax payers re: cost of hospital visits, etc.

It is worth noting that 70% of the shortages are for generic drugs and we are experiencing approximately 1,000 per year – fortunately many are for very short periods of time – some not. There are many committees across the country trying to address the issue especially the Health Canada Multi Stakeholder Steering Committee (MSSC) consisting of pharmaceutical companies, pharmacy associations, distributors, hospitals, CMA, etc. However, no solution in sight so get ready to deal with more shortages. (I am now on the MSSC so please send me your suggestions for a real solution)

pCPA: The pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance is going through a consultative process on their guidelines that will explain exactly how they work and the process they go through to recommend the listing of a medication which of course is still up to each Drug Program to list. Their guidelines are being presented as a ‘living document’ that is to be improved by the input from the various stakeholders. So when it becomes public be sure to comment.

HC, CADTH, CDR and PMPRB: Health Canada, Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health, Common Drug Review and the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board are also going through reviews of their operations and looking to be more aligned with the one another.