rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

Six generic drugs to be commonly purchased, but we could do better

Photo: e-MagineArt.com/Flickr

Change the conversation, support rabble.ca today.

The Council of the Federation's Health Innovation working group has just announced that six generic drugs have been chosen to be jointly purchased by provinces and territories. It has been estimated that this could save Canadians through their provincial drug insurance plans and out-of-pocket expenditures $100 million a year.

The premiers first announced that they were working on common generic purchasing of some drugs at the Council of the Federation meeting in July. We wrote about it here.

We applaud the premiers for coming together and finding a way to make generic drugs more affordable for Canadians. However, we want to see this go much further. Canada remains the only country with universal health care that does not include prescription drugs.

Canadians are also finding it harder to afford prescription drugs. One in 10 Canadians are longer filling their prescriptions because the cost is prohibitive.

While generic drugs are a fine place to start, the real cost drivers are big brand pharmaceutical drugs. If the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with the EU is passed, big pharma could increase its drug prices by up to $2.8 billion a year! Any savings with the new common generic drug-purchasing plan would be overshadowed by this much bigger cost to Canadians.

What's the solution? Pharmacare. A universal pharmaceutical program that would cover the cost of prescription drugs for all Canadians. How much would it cost? Nada. In fact it would save us $10.7 billion a year. But it'll be a lot harder to bring into Canada if CETA passes.

So congratulations to the premiers on this arrangement. But let's get Harper back to the table and talk about the programs that will bring real savings and more importantly real justice to all Canadians. Six generic drugs is a start, but we could do much better.

Photo: e-MagineArt.com/Flickr

Thank you for reading this story...

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all. But media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our only supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help.

If everyone who visits rabble and likes it chipped in a couple of dollars per month, our future would be much more secure and we could do much more: like the things our readers tell us they want to see more of: more staff reporters and more work to complete the upgrade of our website.

We’re asking if you could make a donation, right now, to set rabble on solid footing in 2017.

Make a donation.Become a monthly supporter.


We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.