Employers face hard questions until national drug program becomes reality

I remember when employers were concerned about the potential impact of a little blue pill called Viagra that came with an annual price tag of about $1,200. In those days, $1,200 would have been a high-cost drug. In 2017, that seems like a bargain, as today’s specialty drugs cost tens of thousands of dollars per patient per year. For severe cases of rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease and psoriasis, speciality drugs can cost between $20,000 and $30,000 annually, while those cost of new medications approved to treat cystic fibrosis and other rarer diseases can exceed $250,000 each year. Drugs to treat hepatitis C can cost more than $100,000 but they essentially cure the disease in most patients. British Columbia announced recently it would cover those drugs as part of its provincial plan, which should provide cost relief for private insurers and employers. It uncertain other provinces will follow British Columbia’s lead.

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Article by Kenneth MacDonald, Senior Consultant with Morneau Shepell.