Patients have a right to affordable drugs: Joel Lexchin
Here is this week’s round-up of who is saying what about public health care. This week we cover commentary on how we must challenge Big Pharma blocking drug price reform and private clinics and calls for people-centred health care.
Big Pharma undermining drug price reform
“Only 10-15 per cent of new drugs are actually major therapeutic breakthroughs. The industry claims the other 85-90 per cent give patients more choice. But companies don’t test their new drugs on patients who can’t tolerate or don’t get better on older ones. So, nobody really knows if those choices mean anything positive for patients. . . Drug companies make threats to maintain their ability to make extraordinarily high profits. The rest of us need to stand up for the right of patients to get drugs at affordable prices,” wrote Dr. Joel Lexchin, Professor Emeritus of Health Policy and Management, York University and Canadian Health Coalition Board Member, in The Conversation, Jan. 9, 2023.
Doug Ford’s Ontario strategy proven wrong in Saskatchewan
“Yes, there are private labs, private medical imaging, etc. But publicly-funded, publicly-delivered, publicly-accessible health care is the goal. It’s not about a lack of innovation in the public system, it’s about moving to an inequitable and wholly-inefficient hybrid for-profit system, which is not governed with the same rigor and standards as the public system. The public health care system is not a ‘business’, and the attitude that it is must stop. There are opportunities for innovation in the current system, but it requires political guts and a significant financial investment. The staffing crisis has been in the making for the last decade. This isn’t a cycle— it’s a crisis; just ask any healthcare worker,” said Barbara Cape, Canadian Health Coalition Board member and President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU West), Saskatoon in a letter submitted in response to a column in the Toronto Star, which described the fight to save Canada’s health care system as a “cult.”
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Private health clinics withhold ‘public’ information
‘We don’t know if it is less expensive for government to pay these clinics to perform certain routine day surgeries than if they were done within the public system. Do they reduce wait-lists? 2021 data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information shows that the average wait in Alberta for cataract surgery is only 2 percentage points lower than the national average. Nevertheless, the Alberta government has been charging ahead with plans to contract out more surgeries to for-profit clinics, including hip and knee replacements that require overnight stays; it’s aiming to eventually have 30 per cent of all surgeries performed outside hospitals in for-profit clinics . . . behind the scenes these clinics chip away at the sustainability of our public health care system. And we will all pay a price for that.” Gillian Steward, Calgary-based freelance columnist, Toronto Star, Jan. 24, 2023
Public Policy Forum calls for people-centred health care reform
“Health-care funding should be rooted in health outcomes that matter most to the people of Canada; reform should start with the expectations of Canadians, and decision-makers should work back from there. As well, the report recognizes health as an economic pillar and pushes for reforms necessary to achieve timely, accessible care.
New goals to guide reform should include:
- Access to a primary care team within a 30-minute drive of where you live or work;
- The free, accredited movement of doctors, nurses, technicians and other health-care workers within Canada;
- Personal data mobility; and
- Better empowerment of family and friends to help care for loved ones.”
Stated Public Policy Forum, January 24, 2023.