Libby questions on Conservative government on the affordability of perscription medications

House of Commons
September 29, 2011

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Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP):

Mr. Speaker, macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss for Canadian seniors. It affects thousands of people.

The government agency in charge of evaluating drug costs is recommending a drug that costs seniors a staggering $1,500 a month instead of a drug which costs only $7 a month. Experts say these drugs are virtually identical.

Why is the government choosing to drain seniors’ pocketbooks?

Hon. Leona Aglukkaq (Minister of Health, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, our government recognizes the importance of affordable access to drugs as part of our quality health care system. We work with the provinces and the territories, which are responsible for deciding which drugs are publicly covered. That is why we have consistently increased transfers to the provinces and territories, by over 30% since we formed government, so that they can continue to meet the health care needs of their residents.

Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP):

Mr. Speaker, we are talking about a government agency that is making these recommendations.

Clearly, switching to a cheaper drug would give seniors a much needed break and would save the government around $100 million a year.

I am sure the minister is aware of reports saying that the drug manufacturer is manipulating the supply to favour the costlier drug.

Why does the government continue to allow drug recommendations based on corporate profits and not on what is best for Canadians? Where is the plan for making drugs more affordable?