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Health Care System

National Pharmaceuticals Strategy (NPS)

As part of the 10-Year Plan to Strengthen Health Care, First Ministers (Prime Minister Martin and the leaders of the provinces and territories), agreed to the National Pharmaceuticals Strategy. First Ministers agreed that no Canadian should suffer undue financial hardship in accessing needed drug therapies, and that affordable access to drugs is fundamental to equitable health outcomes for all our citizens.

First Ministers directed their Health Ministers to establish a Ministerial Task Force to develop and implement the National Pharmaceuticals Strategy and to report on progress by June 30, 2006. First Ministers directed that the Strategy include the following actions:

  • Develop, assess and cost options for catastrophic pharmaceutical coverage;
  • Establish a common National Drug Formulary for participating jurisdictions based on safety and cost effectiveness;
  • Accelerate access to breakthrough drugs for unmet health needs through improvements to the drug approval process;
  • Strengthen evaluation of real-world drug safety and effectiveness;
  • Pursue purchasing strategies to obtain best prices for Canadians for drugs and vaccines;
  • Enhance action to influence the prescribing behaviour of health care professionals so that drugs are used only when needed and the right drug is used for the right problem;
  • Broaden the practice of e-prescribing through accelerated development and deployment of the Electronic Health Record;
  • Accelerate access to non-patented drugs and achieve international parity on prices of non-patented drugs; and
  • Enhance analysis of cost drivers and cost-effectiveness, including best practices in drug plan policies.

[It is understood that Quebec will maintain its own pharmacare program.]

In October 2004, federal, provincial and territorial ministers of health established the Ministerial Task Force to guide the development and implementation of the NPS. The Task Force is co-chaired by the federal minister of health and the British Columbia minister of health services, and includes representatives from all provinces and territories except Quebec. Since the striking of the Task Force, federal, provincial and territorial health ministry officials have been actively engaged in developing the nine elements of the NPS. As this joint work evolves, updates will be posted on this Web page.