P.E.I. to host summit on generic drugs this fall

Ryan Ross rross@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on June 10, 2014

Prince Edward Island Health Minister Doug Currie

©Guardian photo by Heather Taweel

As he tries to get more people to use generic prescription drugs instead of brand names Health Minister Doug Currie plans to hold a summit on the issue this fall.

Currie made the remarks after hosting the Atlantic health minister this week and said it’s a matter of saving money that could be used elsewhere in the health-care system.

“We want to make sure that we’re getting good value and we’re also improving overall health outcomes,” he said.

Health ministers Leo Glavine from Nova Scotia, Hugh Flemming from New Brunswick and Paul Davis from Newfoundland and Labrador were in Charlottetown for meetings Monday and into Tuesday morning.

The discussions covered several issues including regional procurement strategies, generic drug use and streamlining the process for locum doctors.

They were all preliminary talks that the ministers plan to discuss further as they try to find savings in health care.

Those savings could include increased use of generic drugs and Currie said his planned summit would involve the Atlantic health ministers, senior departmental officials, insurance plan providers and health authorities with about 70-80 people attending.

“There’s a lot of appetite and interest in having those conversations.”

The P.E.I. government has been taking gradual steps in recent years to save money on generic drugs, including reducing the amount it pays pharmacists for them through public programs.

Currie said the Atlantic provinces spend $9 billion on health care and that money could provide for a strong, united health-care system compared to other parts of the country.

“It’s all about good value for the resources that we have.”

After the meetings, Flemming spoke to the media about his province’s savings after it came in under budget on health care and said steps were taken that were long overdue.

“It’s a necessary process for any government to get the uncontrollable spending in health care under control because that which is not sustainable ultimately will not be,” he said.

As a region, the Atlantic provinces could save about $400 million just in generic drug costs alone if the right measures were taken, Flemming said.

“That’s a lot of money.”