Governments of Canada and Prince Edward Island Continue Work to Improve Access to Medications for Island Residents

News release

January 17, 2023 | Cornwall, Prince Edward Island | Health Canada

No Canadian should have to choose between paying for prescription drugs and putting food on the table.

Today, the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Canada's Minister of Health, and the Honourable Ernie Hudson, Minister of Health and Wellness for Prince Edward Island (PEI), highlighted further progress made under the Improving Affordable Access to Prescriptions Drugs Program to make it easier for Islanders to access and afford medications.

Since announcing the signing of the letter of intent in August 2021 and the subsequent signing of the funding agreement in March 2022, the Improving Affordable Access to Prescriptions Drugs Program has enabled many PEI residents to have more affordable access to important treatments for cancer, heart disease, migraine, and mental health. The province has also changed the requirements on dozens of medications to allow greater ease of access for patients and reduced administrative burden for physicians seeking to provide these medications to Islanders.

As well, the Governments of Canada and PEI announced today that a third suite of medications are being added to the PEI formulary as of January 23, 2023. Since December 2022, PEI has improved access to 61 medications. These improvements include medications used in the treatment of cancer, heart disease, migraine, multiple sclerosis, and pulmonary arterial hypertension.

This latest addition of medications to the province's formulary marks another important milestone in improving the affordability and accessibility of prescription drugs for Island residents. Details on PEI's support for the cost of prescription medication are available here.

To help inform the various stages of the program, PEI has undertaken a comparative scan of existing drug coverage across multiple provinces and identified opportunities to improve access and affordability of prescription drugs for Island residents. In addition, stakeholder consultations on how residents use PEI drug programs and how those programs meet individual needs were completed in November 2022 and will continue to help guide development and expansion of drug costs assistance under the Improving Affordable Access to Prescriptions Drugs Program.

Through this partnership, the Government of PEI is aiming to make further improvements to their drug programs, such as increasing coverage and simplifying access. Under the Improving Affordable Access to Prescriptions Drugs Program, those who experience the most vulnerability, including uninsured Island residents, seniors, and families with high burden of medication cost will benefit from improved access to medications.

Quotes

“Everyone deserves affordable and accessible medications that they need. Through this initiative, in collaboration with the Government of PEI, we are helping to make this a reality for Islanders who need it the most. The medications made more affordable and accessible will improve the lives of many on PEI as we continue our work toward improving access and affordability for all Canadians through a national pharmacare program.”

The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos
Minister of Health

“Our ongoing investments in pharmacy programs are making more and more medications available to Islanders. Accessible, affordable medicine is a key component of modern, collaborative care for all residents of our Island.”

The Honourable Ernie Hudson
Minister of Health and Wellness, Government of Prince Edward Island

“Drug coverage and the health system should respond to the needs of Canadians. By helping folks access their medications, we are taking another step forward in ensuring that all Islanders have reliable access to the treatments and care they deserve, when and where they need it.”

The Honourable Lawrence MacAulay
Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence

“Improving equity in access to medications is necessary in order to improve our health system. When the right treatment is out of reach due to financial circumstances and affordability of medication, the individual and the health system suffer. This announcement today moves us closer to attaining affordable access to necessary medications for Islanders. ”

Dr. Michael Gardam
Chief Executive Officer at Health PEI

Quick facts

  • This initiative was announced in August 2021, and the subsequent funding agreement was signed in March 2022.

  • With this agreement, PEI is receiving $35 million over four years (2021-22 to 2024-25) in federal funding to improve access to and make prescriptions drugs more affordable.

  • This funding is in addition to the concrete steps the government is taking toward the implementation of national universal pharmacare, as outlined in Budget 2022.

  • In June 2022, the Government of Canada and PEI announced a suite of substance use treatment medications to be available, at no cost, to Island residents under the Improving Affordable Access to Prescriptions Drugs Program.

  • In August 2022, PEI strengthened community mental health services with the addition of second generation long acting antipsychotic medications, as requested by local care providers, to the Community Mental Health program. Other improvements include changes to special authorization requirements for 23 medications on the Pharmacare formulary that allowed greater ease of access for physicians seeking to provide medications to PEI residents.

  • In December 2022, the Government of Canada and PEI added another suite of medications to the PEI formulary, including two important medications, Zejula® (niraparib tosylate) and Lynparza® (olaparib), for treating ovarian cancer.

Associated links

Contacts

Guillaume Bertrand
Senior Communications Advisor and Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos
Minister of Health
613-957-0200

Media Relations
Health Canada and Public Health Agency of Canada
613-957-2983
media@hc-sc.gc.ca

Ron Ryder
Media Contact
Health and Wellness
rrryder@gov.pe.ca
902-314-6367

Public Inquiries:
613-957-2991
1-866-225-0709

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