BC Pharmacare coalition fighting for access to medications and educating politicians
One of the major advocacy initiatives currently underway in British Columbia by a coalition of health care agencies including The Arthritis Society (TAS) deals with access to medications. Specifically, getting PharmaCare to pay for more drugs or, to use the technical term, to have them put more drugs on the provincial formulary. Once a drug is listed on the formulary, PharmaCare will pay for some or all of the cost, usually depending on the patient’s age and financial situation.
TAS belongs to a group called the Better PharmaCare Coalition. Recently this group hosted a number of provincial MLAs and Cabinet Ministers at a breakfast meeting in Victoria. The purpose was to inform the politicians about how current government health policies often interfere with people actually getting the medications they need.
What is the Better PharmaCare Coalition?
The Better PharmaCare Coalition is a collection of national and provincial health, professional and consumer advocacy groups representing over 1.5 million British Columbians. The common denominator bringing the groups together is their belief in people having access to necessary medications. It is vital that the people represented by the coalition get the medications they need. Their quality of life is tied to the medications – in some cases, their lives depend on it. The coalition is concerned about the way PharmaCare operates.
Medications as part of the BC health budget
The coalition’s position is that BC PharmaCare is not as good as what’s offered in other provinces. For example, other provinces cover most new drugs, but BC does not. BC takes longer than just about any other province to make a listing decision about new drugs when they come onto the market. On average, it takes 733 days or more than two years for a new drug to be listed on the formulary. Medications improve the quality of life, and help people live longer, healthier lives. They can cure illness, delay symptom progression and manage chronic disease. Medications save the health system a lot of money. Patients who would otherwise need hospitalization, home assistance and extensive rehabilitation can often live on their own if proper medication is available and affordable.
According to a recent study of BC health spending by the Canadian Institute of Health Information, the money allocated for drugs offers the best value in health care for patients. Why then does it make up only 7 percent of our province’s total health care budget? Let’s urge our politicians to direct more health funding into providing drugs. Let’s demand an increase in the percentage of money allocated for drugs. Why wouldn’t they pay more for products that improve quality of life and saves health care dollars in the long run? With a provincial election in BC coming in May, let your local MLA know that you’re concerned about easier access to medications.
Additional information about BC PharmaCare coalition at: http://www.betterpharmacare.com/index.php