One difference between Canadian and American health care is that the US government allows research-based drug makers to advertise the benefits of their medicines to patients, but the Canadian government outlaws this freedom of speech. Unfortunately, the Canadian Medical Association Journal (the Canadian equivalent of the Journal of the American Medical Association) has encouraged Canadas government to maintain this restriction.
Generic Drugopoly: Why Non-patented Prescription Drugs Cost More in Canada than in the United States and Europe
The government of Manitoba has embarked on an ill-advised industrial policy that will not only put Canadians health at risk without improving employment or economic growth in the province, but also violates the principles of free trade as well.
The policy in question is the governments encouragement of Internet-based, mail-order pharmacies that send lower-priced Canadian prescription drugs to American patients in violation of U.S. law.
Prescription Drug Prices in Canada and the United States, Part 4: Canadian Prescriptions for American Patients Are Not the Solution
According to the Canadian Medical Association Journal, our government should continue to prohibit research-based drug makers from communicating with patients through direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA). A survey reported in the latest issue of the journal that shows that patients who request advertised drugs from their doctors are much more likely to receive prescriptions than patients who do not.
Worried about rising expenditures for prescription drugs, many states are employing preferred lists to encourage doctors to prescribe older, lower-priced drugs and forego the latest, more expensive medicines.
If Congress succeeds in passing a Medicare prescription drug benefit this year, the debate over preferred drug lists - now raging in numerous states - is likely to explode onto the national stage.
The lists - also known as formularies - are, whether we like it or not, a form of rationing. Ask any Canadian.
In January, GlaxoSmithKline, a global pharmaceutical manufacturer, announced that it would stop delivering its prescription drugs to wholesalers that supply Canadian mail order pharmacies that sell to American patients. These pharmacies, clustered in Manitoba, take advantage of the price difference between the two countries. Recently, AstraZeneca, an Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical manufacturer, indicated that it would take similar action. Glaxo has weathered a storm of accusations that it is preventing American patients from getting the companys medicines at affordable prices.
The existence of independent provincial Pharmacare programs and private insurance for prescription drugs is considered by some to be a blot on Canadian medicare. They want these options abolished in favour of National Pharmacare.
Health care costs are rising, and prescription drugs are taking up a larger share of those costs, but the change is a lot less dramatic than people think. Prescription drug costs were 8 percent of total health costs in 1991, and 12 percent in 2001, an average increase of less than half a percentage point a year.