Council of the Federation Wrap-Up - Long-term approach needed to supporting patients and health sustainability

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Premiers wrapped up their summer meeting last week and issued a statement relating to the work of the Health Care Innovation Working Group.

I provided some blog background from the pharmaceutical industry perspective over the past several weeks, but for today I thought I would look at the Premiers statement and the reaction of the innovative pharma sector.

The Premiers statement on health did speak to health sustainability and patient needs, and I thought it was particularly important for Premiers to discuss neurological issues like dementia. With Canada's aging population continuing to grow, this is a societal issue that impacts us all.

One of the other areas Premiers tackled was again, within the area of short-term "cost containment." My concern about this is the potential negative and unforeseen impacts on patient care and possible drug shortages. I really think that including all the players within the health system, including the innovative research based pharmaceutical companies to the table to find solutions to improve health sustainability, bring costs down and focus on patient care would be a more effective approach for Canadians.

For example, a recent Conference Board of Canada report showed that, in six therapeutic areas, every dollar invested in innovative medicines delivered at least double the return in health, social and economic benefits. Taking a longer-term approach that looks at savings to health systems through the use of home care services, pharmaceutical therapies and preventative health practitioner interventions saves money on more costly procedures and hospital stays while improving the quality of life of individual patients.

Russell Williams of Rx&D stressed the interest in the Canadian pharmaceutical sector to be part of the solution as a meaningful participant at the table: "Our companies are committed to contributing to a healthy Canada by working with all partners to help build a healthcare system that is sustainable."

So, as Premiers Wynne (ON), Redford (AB) and Pasloski (YK) take on the roles of co-chairs of the Health Care Innovation Working Group, we urge them to look at the full picture and ensure that the voices of patients and other partners are heard in the months ahead.