VICTORIA - Government introduced Bill 35, the Pharmaceutical Services Act, which will enshrine one of the most comprehensive public drug plans in Canada into law, as well as allow the Province to regulate and lower prescription drug prices.
The act shifts the $1-billion PharmaCare program from one which relies on government policy, to a program protected by legislation. PharmaCare helps British Columbians with the cost of eligible prescription drugs and designated medical supplies, and provides reasonable access to drug therapy through seven drug plans.
The act also creates the framework to allow the Ministry of Health to regulate and further lower drug prices for all patients in B.C. Patients and the public health-care system can expect to save significant amounts of money on the cost of prescription drugs this year.
As of April 2, 2012, generic drugs cost 35 per cent of the brand name price. Through legislation, the Province plans to lower generic drug prices to be in line with other jurisdictions.
While the legislation is being introduced today, throughout the summer the ministry will be drafting the regulations related to drug pricing under this act, which will involve consulting with stakeholders and others. Regulations provide further details on how the act will be implemented and enforced.
Minister of Health Michael de Jong -
"This government is committed to protecting PharmaCare and keeping drugs available and affordable to the public. The cost and accessibility of pharmaceutical drugs is an area of great concern to patients, health professionals, governments and the public. We will continue to stand up for PharmaCare, patients and families."
- British Columbia is the only province with a public drug plan in Canada that does not have supporting legislation.
- The Province expects to reinvest savings from lowering the cost of generic drugs to enhance patient care in a variety of ways, including keeping PharmaCare affordable for lower-income B.C. seniors and families, increasing funding for pharmacy services such as medication management and in continuing to protect rural and remote pharmacies.
- The transition of PharmaCare to this act will be seamless for beneficiaries, who will not have to re-register or change their PharmaCare account in any way.
- PharmaCare is one of the fastest growing areas of the health-care budget. Since 2001, its budget has increased by approximately 74 per cent, from $654 million to more than $1.1 billion for 2011-12.
For more information on the Pharmaceutical Services Act, please visit:
Details on how PharmaCare works and how to apply can be found at: http://www.health.gov.bc.ca/pharmacare/
Media Relations Manager
Ministry of Health
250 952-1887 (media line)