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Backgrounder(s) & FactSheet(s):Backgrounder




For Immediate Release


May 21, 2008

Ministry of Health




VICTORIA – Government has accepted all of the recommendations from the Pharmaceutical Task Force, announced Health Minister George Abbott today.


“The task force has provided us with insightful analysis on improving patient care and enhancing the quality, safety and value of our world-class PharmaCare program,” said Abbott. “Their advice and recommendations will strengthen our significant investments in this vital area of the public health system, so that patients in B.C. continue to benefit from a public drug plan that is based on the best scientific evidence and sustainable for future generations.”


In November 2007, the nine-member task force – made up of clinical professionals, academics, pharmaceutical industry leaders and government policy-makers – was charged with advising government on key areas of pharmaceutical policy within the health system. Their report offers recommendations aimed at creating a more streamlined and transparent drug review process while delivering the best patient outcomes and the best value to British Columbians.


            “The Ministry of Health will begin working with stakeholders on some recommendations immediately, while others are more complex and will take some time to plan and implement,” said Abbott. “Our work to enhance the Province’s pharmaceutical policy has the interests of patients as our foremost consideration, while assuring maximum value for taxpayers.”


Government’s implementation of the recommendations will be guided by six principles:

1.      The best interests of the patient are paramount.

2.      The B.C. government is obliged to seek the best value possible for taxpayer dollars in its expenditures.

3.      The foundation of all drug benefit decisions will be predicated upon a transparent evidence-based review process.

4.      The B.C. government is committed to fair, open and transparent procurement processes.

5.      All persons involved in making decisions respecting the procurement of goods and services by government must be free from conflict of interest, both real and perceived.

6.      The B.C. government values a healthy, competitive pharmaceutical industry that will continue to provide both financial and human resource investments in B.C.


 “The task force heard from a wide range of stakeholders, whose views were united by the common thread that patients must have access to the best care and treatment possible,” said George Morfitt, alternate chair of the Pharmaceutical Task Force. “It has been our privilege to undertake this challenging task, and we trust our conclusions will guide the province to a constructive way forward with the evolution of pharmaceutical policy in British Columbia.”


B.C. faces increasing demand for prescriptions each year – with a 46-per-cent increase over the past four years from 18.3 claims per patient in 2002 to 26.8 claims per patient in 2006. In the past two years, PharmaCare has added more than 480 individual generic drugs and more than 50 brand drugs to its formulary. Since 2001, PharmaCare’s budget has increased by more than 50 per cent, from $654 million to $1.016 billion in 2008/09.

PharmaCare subsidizes eligible prescription drugs and designated medical supplies, protecting British Columbians from high drug costs. PharmaCare provides financial assistance to British Columbians under Fair PharmaCare and other specialty plans. More than 23 million prescriptions are now covered each year under the B.C. PharmaCare program.


The Report of the Pharmaceutical Task Force can be found on the Ministry of Health website at



 1 backgrounder(s) attached.





Sarah Plank

Manager, Media Relations

Ministry of Health

250 952-1887 (media line)


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