The Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association (CLHIA) says that billions of dollars could be saved if the full bargaining power of the Canadian marketplace were used as leverage to negotiate lower drug prices.
In a statement released on March 25, CLHIA described Canada’s current system as a complex patchwork that results in unduly high prescription drug costs for Canadians. "This places an undue financial burden on both employers and governments and undermines the ongoing financial sustainability of drug coverage in Canada," says CLHIA.
CLHIA would like to see the public and private sectors co-operate and use their combined strength to negotiate for better prices. The association says that this is something that can be done relatively easily within the current system and would not require an overhaul of the entire system.
In addition, CLHIA is calling on the government to review the way the Patented Medicines Prices Review Board (PMPRB) regulates the prices for drugs. "Going forward, the PMPRB should adopt a market-based approach and strive to set the maximum price at the lowest possible level for Canadians," reads the statement.
Finally, the association of insurers suggests that Canadians would benefit from the establishment of a common national minimum formulary. "This minimum list of drugs would be covered across the nation and would ensure a baseline of coverage for all Canadians thereby significantly reducing the existing complexity in the system," concludes CLHIA. "An important advantage of using this approach is that it would still allow for plan sponsors or individuals to obtain additional coverage — thereby maintaining a system that preserves competition and choice in the marketplace."