Provinces to buy generic drugs together to save health costs, premiers say
The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, July 26, 2012 1:05PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, July 26, 2012 9:49PM EDT
HALIFAX -- Canada's premiers and territorial leaders have agreed to buy generic drugs together in an effort to save health care costs.
The premiers released a report Thursday that lists ways of saving money while delivering services they say will make the health system more efficient.
One of the measures they have agreed to implement is to buy three to five generic drugs in bulk.
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, who co-wrote the report with Premier Robert Ghiz of Prince Edward Island, said those drugs would be identified in the fall and the provinces and territories would begin buying them next spring.
"We pay a lot more for generic drugs in Canada than, for example, in the U.S.," Wall told a news conference. "We've got to fix that."
The premiers also agreed to examine clinical practice guidelines throughout Canada to determine whether certain surgeries may be unnecessary, thereby saving the provinces and territories money, Wall said.
He cited the standard of care used to treat foot ulcers related to diabetes, saying if the right standard were adopted it would result in fewer hospitalizations and amputations.
Wall said the report is a response to what he characterized as Ottawa's lack of interest in improving the health care.
"The federal government stated pretty clearly by what they didn't say and what they did say that they weren't perhaps as interested in innovation as we like and the premiers very much are," he said.
Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter also accused the federal government of distancing itself from efforts to improve patient care.
"The federal government decided it was going to absent itself from the decision-making around health care and the premiers at that time decided that we were going to take it upon ourselves to provide leadership in this very important area," Dexter said.
Some premiers fumed after federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced a new health care funding formula late last year that would take effect in 2014.
The scheme calls for current spending levels of six per cent annually until 2017, followed by increases tied to the rate of economic growth. Those increases are expected to be about four per cent annually, but Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has said they will never drop below three per cent.
The federal government has defended the new formula as generous.