Dr. Marc Andre Gagnon says that while Medicare is sustainable, rising drug costs are not.
A leading expert on pharmaceutical policy in Canada, Carleton University’s Gagnon spoke Saturday at the Students for Medicare conference in Toronto.
Gagnon says drug costs have been rising by an average of 10 per cent annually since 1988. Even with the so-called “patent cliff” where major blockbuster drugs have dropped in price due to the recent availability of generics, overall drug costs are still rising by 4.7 per cent per year.
The patent cliff benefit won’t last according to Gagnon. Within two or three years costs will be rising again unless the system is reformed.
For Gagnon, it’s not so much a question of if we have reform, but what kind of reform we want. Drug costs in Canada and Japan are rising faster than any other industrialized nation and provinces are under pressure to act.
In Canada 44 per cent of spending on drugs is public, 38 per cent paid for by private insurance, and 18 per cent paid out-of-pocket.