A recent article from has summarized Canada’s current Public Drug Plans.

The federal government and each of the provincial and territorial governments operate separate publicly funded prescription drug benefit plans within their jurisdiction. Previous research shows that the quality of drug benefits varies significantly between public drug plans. The quality of public insurance coverage for new drugs is an important policy issue because millions of Canadians are dependent on public drug plans for access to their prescription medications, and there are significant health and economic implications associated with access to pharmaceutical innovation. This annual study compares the quality of benefits under Canada’s public drug programs in terms of the number of new drugs approved for public insurance coverage; the time that patients must wait for publicly insured access to new drugs; and the scope of insured access (Full Benefit v. Special Access / other access).

Mark Rovere and Brett Skinner published a report comparing the quality and comprehensiveness of the different Canadian public drug plans. They looked at three metrics:

  1. % of approved drugs by health Canada that are listed on provincial formularies
  2. Average number of days following health Canada approval to list the new drug
  3. % of drugs listed as Full Benefit vs Special Access

Highlights of findings:

  • Of the 464 drugs approved between 2004-2013, on average, only 24.2% were listed and it took 731 days.
  • Quebec had the highest listing rates (40.1%) and shortest listing times (432 days).
  • New Brunswick had the 3rd highest listing rates (28.4%), but the slowest listing time (986 days). Conversely, the NIHB had the 2nd fastest listing times (622 days), but the worst listing rate (17.0%).

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