The province is amending legislation to streamline how its prescription drug formularies are updated, which would provide faster and better access to drugs and other therapies for Manitobans.
“This is an important shift that will modernize and streamline the process for prescription drugs to become available to Manitobans,” said Health and Seniors Care Minister Audrey Gordon. “We know how important the Pharmacare program is to thousands of people to ensure they have access to medications to support their health and quality of life. This amendment allows us to be more responsive when new medication becomes available and reduces the time required to add to the formulary.”
Changes to the Pharmaceutical Act and the Prescription Drugs Cost Assistance Act would allow updates to the Manitoba Drug Interchangeability Formulary and the Manitoba Drug Benefit Formulary to be made by provincial policy instead of regulation. This would allow the province to add lower-cost generic drugs more quickly and add or remove drugs from the formularies if there are drug shortages.
“Streamlining Manitobans’ access to cost-saving generic prescription medicines after they have been reviewed and authorized for sale by Health Canada is a smart way to reduce unnecessary red tape and save money that can be better invested in patient care,” said Jim Keon, president, Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association.
To help better identify patterns or trends that might indicate inappropriate or fraudulent drug prescriptions, the province shares information with health professions about monitored drugs, which include opioids such as OxyNEO and hydromorphone. These changes would also allow new monitored drugs to be added more quickly by policy instead of regulation. This would ensure the province and health professions can more quickly identify and respond to emerging concerns or reports of prescription drug misuse, noted Gordon.
These changes result from amendments to sections 20 to 24 of the Reducing Red Tape and Improving Services Act,which would come into effect by proclamation on Oct. 18.
The formularies list therapeutically effective drugs of proven high quality that have been approved as eligible benefits under the Pharmacare drug benefit program. The Manitoba Pharmacare Program is based on family income and covers 100 per cent of eligible drug costs once the income-based deductible is reached, regardless of medical condition or age.
For more information on the Manitoba Pharmacare Program, visit gov.mb.ca.