SOURCE: Canadian Health Policy Institute


January 27, 2016 06:00 ET

Canadian Health Policy Institute: Private Insurance Provides Better and Faster Coverage for New Drugs Than Government-Run Programs

TORONTO, ON--(Marketwired - January 27, 2016) -  A new study published at Canadian Health Policy, the online journal of Canadian Health Policy Institute (CHPI), finds that private sector drug plans are much better and much faster than government-run drug programs at providing access to the newest and most innovative prescription drugs.

Several academics, unions and Ontario's Minister of Health are advocating for the establishment of a new national government-run drug plan known as pharmacare. The CHPI study contributes much needed evidence about how national pharmacare could affect access to prescription drugs for the more than 24 million Canadians who are privately insured.

Using data from Health Canada and IMS Health Canada Inc. the study showed that of the 464 new drugs approved for sale by Health Canada during 2004 to 2013, 89% (413) were covered by at least one private drug plan compared to nearly 50% (231) that were covered by at least one public plan as of January 31, 2015.

The study also found that the average number of days to insure the new drugs that were approved by Health Canada during 2004 to 2013 was 132 days for private drug plans compared to 468 days for public drug plans, comparing only the drugs that have been covered by at least one public drug plan and at least one private drug plan, as of January 31, 2015.

The study follows an analysis published by CHPI in December 2015 that compared coverage for new drugs across the 11 federal and provincial public drug plans in Canada. The December study used a different method because the researchers had more comprehensive data available to compare drug coverage within public drug plans. Data were not available to allow the same level of analysis within each private drug plan, which is why the authors used an alternate method for comparing coverage at the sectoral level. The study used the most recent data available when the analysis was conducted.

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The article, Coverage for new medicines in public versus private drug plans in Canada, is available online at: or

About CHPI

Canadian Health Policy Institute (CHPI) is an independent think-tank dedicated to conducting, publishing and communicating evidence-based research on the health system performance and health policy issues that are important to Canadians. 

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