NAFTA Negotiations Threaten Canada’s Push for Universal Pharmacare

NAFTA re-negotiations may impact Canada’s push for Universal Pharmacare.

U.S. trade negotiators favour the interests of pharmaceutical manufacturers over government and consumers. In the 1980s, the U.S. pharmaceutical industry successfully lobbied the U.S. government to make the elimination of early generic drug competition in Canada part of the Canada-U.S. free trade agreement. In the 1990s, The U.S. made the dismantling of policies favouring Canadian drug manufacturers part of the original NAFTA deal.

Expect the U.S. to press Canada for longer monopolies on patented medicines in order to delay competition from low-cost generic medicines. This would significantly increase costs for Canadians — without any benefits.

The Australia-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA) negotiations sought to eliminate government measures such as price controls and reference pricing which deny full market access for United States products. Australia defended its right to use evidence-based processes to determine which medicines it would use in its universal public drug plan.

Canada is the only high-income country with a universal health care program that doesn’t include universal coverage of prescription drugs. When re-negotiating NAFT, Canada should do as Australia did; use evidence-based results to decide which drugs to cover and to negotiate prices for these drugs.

This is a summary of The Province article NAFTA negotiations a threat to Canada’s push for universal pharmacare by Ruth Lopert and Steve Morgan. Click here to read the entire article.