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Healthc Policy. 2016 Aug;12(1):18-36.

A Better Prescription: Advice for a National Strategy on Pharmaceutical Policy in Canada.

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Professor, School of Population and Public Health, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC.
Associate Professor, School of Public Policy and Administration, Carleton University, Ottawa, ON.
Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia.
Professor, Faculty of Health, York University, Toronto, ON.


Canada needs a national strategy to fulfill its obligation to ensure universal access to necessary healthcare, including prescription drugs. A 2004 attempt at a national strategy for pharmaceutical policy failed because it lacked clear vision, logical planning and commitment from federal and provincial governments. The result of uncoordinated pharmaceutical policies in Canada has been more than a decade of poor system performance. In this essay, we present a framework for a renewed national strategy for pharmaceutical policy. Building on published research and international frameworks, we propose that pharmaceutical policies of federal, provincial and territorial governments be coordinated around a core health-focused goal. We strongly suggest policy actions be taken on four core objectives that are necessary to support the overarching health goal. If implemented, the proposed strategy would offer clear benefits to all Canadians who use medicines, federal and provincial governments and to the economy as a whole. We therefore argue that political leadership is now needed to articulate and implement such a plan on behalf of Canadians.

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