Dr. Hedy Fry's letter to the Minister of Health on pharmaceuticals

Hedy Fry In The House
Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Dr. Hedy Fry's letter to the Minister of Health on pharmaceuticals

Hon. Rona Ambrose, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Health
70 Colombine Driveway,
Tunney's Pasture
Postal Location: 0906C
Ottawa, ON  K1A 0K9
 
July 15, 2015
 
Dear Minister,
 
I read, with great interest, reports that you are urging the Provinces and Territories to allow the federal government to take part in the Pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance (PCPA), to purchase and supply pharmaceuticals at lower costs, through negotiated agreements and bulk-purchasing. Interestingly, a National Pharmaceutical Strategy was agreed to in the 2004 Health Accord, signed and funded by the Premiers and Prime Minister Paul Martin, but because of your government’s decision to walk away from this agreement, the Provinces and Territories had no choice but to establish the PCPA.
 
In the 2004 Health Accord, the Federal Health Minister and the British Columbia Health Minister agreed to co-chair the development of a comprehensive plan that included bulk-purchasing of pharmaceuticals and ensure patients had access to the prescription drugs they needed, without suffering financial hardship in the process. However, in 2006, when the Conservative Party formed government, Health Minister Tony Clement abandoned the federal role in the National Pharmaceutical Strategy.
 
I have met with Provincial Health Ministers across the country, they have reiterated, to me, their desire to have the federal government re-engage in health care and take a leadership role in developing a Pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Strategy. You have been ignoring these requests.
 
What is needed is not simply for the federal government to join the PCPA, set up by the provinces and territories; we need to reform how we pay for pharmaceuticals, to secure supply, to ensure safety and efficacy and to make certain that any Canadian needing medication will get it, no matter their income or where they live, in other words, a real Pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Strategy. 
 
Numerous reports ranging from the C.D. Howe Institute to the most recent “Pharmacare 2020,” all advise that collaboration, between all levels of government, is necessary to develop a National Pharmaceutical Strategy. Such a strategy must include some form of universal Pharmacare.
 
While I welcome your new-found enthusiasm to involve yourself in the Provinces’ and Territories’ PCPA, it is ten years too late. Given your government’s history regarding a pharmaceutical strategy I am skeptical. One has to wonder if, the fact this is an election year, is reason for your sudden interest. I further believe, that your demand for the provinces to accept your government’s new-found enthusiasm for the PCPA, is less than helpful. 
 
While Canadians expect leadership from their federal government, we need the federal government to collaborate, not dictate.
 
Sincerely,
 
 
Hon. Dr. Hedy Fry, P.C., M.P.
Vancouver Centre
Liberal Party of Canada Critic for Health