Reforming Ontario’s drug system
I’ve recently received a lot of questions about our government’s efforts to reform Ontario’s drug system. People have asked me for more information about what we’re planning to do and why.
I’ve recently received a lot of questions about our government’s efforts to reform Ontario’s drug system.
People have asked me for more information about what we’re planning to do and why. This is an important issue—it makes sense that people want to know more about it. Hopefully this article will provide you with a better sense of why these reforms are needed and how it will benefit Ontarians.
I greatly value the services our local pharmacists provide and I have a lot of respect for the work that they do. I also know that Ontarians are paying far too much for generic drugs. One of the main reasons that prices are so high is the "professional allowances" drug companies pay to pharmacies.
Manufacturers pay pharmacies allowances to encourage them to stock a particular product rather than a competitor’s product. Last year in Ontario, these allowances amounted to $750 million. These expenses get passed on to all of us, and as a result, everyone in Ontario –individual consumers, private plans and the government- pay far too much for generic drugs.
By eliminating "professional allowances" we can cut the cost of generic drugs by at least 50 per cent from their present price. Ontarians will pay less for their generic medications and the government’s savings will be reinvested in new and more drugs. Since 2006, the initial reforms we introduced resulted in savings that allowed us to add 150 new drugs to the public formulary, including an additional 39 cancer products.
We also want to make sure that pharmacists are fairly compensated for the work they do. As a result, we have proposed: 1) increasing dispensing fees; 2) a $150 million government fund that would compensate pharmacists for their professional services; and 3) special funding for small and rural pharmacies.
Health care has been the number one priority for our government since 2003, and it has been a top priority of mine since my time on municipal council. The Ontario Government currently spends $45 billion on health care each year—that’s $15 billion more per year than in 2003, when our government was first elected to office.
We’re providing primary care to 900,000 more people than in 2003, we’ve hired almost 10,000 more nurses, and there are 2,300 more doctors working in Ontario today—and the list goes on. We also have many examples of great improvements to our local health care.
For example, Thunder Bay is now home to angioplasty services. These services allow almost 600 people per year to receive their care in our community, close to family. At the same time, Thunder Bay’s angioplasty facility has created 30 well paying health care jobs, it fulfilled a commitment I made in the 2003 election, and most importantly, it save lives.
The drug reform we’ve introduced is part of our government’s ongoing commitment to expanding and improving health care services. By reforming our drug system, we can provide Ontarians with better access to affordable medication.