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Canadians not getting necessary arthritis medications?

TORONTO, CANADA -- "Arthritis patients across Canada are presently not getting the medications they need," says Denis Morrice, President and CEO of The Arthritis Society. Morrice and patient advocate, Catherine Hofstetter appeared last week before the Commission on the Future of Health Care in Toronto.

"It takes too long to get new, life-changing medications approved in Canada and then there are even more hurdles at the provincial level to getting these drugs to the people who need them most, many of whom are disabled because of the pain and inflammation caused by this horrible disease," Morrice says.

Morrice offered the first of a number of solutions on behalf of The Arthritis Society. "We need a national pharmacare system that is managed and paid for by the federal government - a system which assigns responsibility and accountability to the federal government to streamline the system at all levels and make it work in the best interests of patients," he said. He also proposed other solutions that would comprise such a system:

  • A federal drug review process with that of The United States and with the European(EU) regulatory bodies so that Canadian arthritis patients aren't waiting one, two or more years longer than patients in other industrialized countries for medications.
  • A harmonized drug review process that takes advantage of other efforts and expertise and to cut costs on research, and clinical studies. Duplicated efforts are expensive and are, simply, translated into the higher costs of medications for all Canadians.
  • The federal government should assume full financial responsibility for a national pharmacare programme. A single national panel will be more cost-effective.
  • Assigned and exclusive federal government responsibility and accountability for one national formulary. This means that when medications are approved by a single panel with objective international experts, medications are then made uniformly available for all Canadians in every province and territory.
  • Assigned and exclusive federal government responsibility and accountability for comprehensive cost-effective studies and impact studies (pharmacoeconomic studies), on medications.

The Arthritis Society is Canada's only not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing and promoting arthritis education, community support and research-based solutions to the more than four million Canadians living with arthritis.

Source: Arthritis Society (Canada)

Posted: June 2002