The choice to limit access to certain prescription medications to treat mental health problems among indigenous communities patients based on the same recommendations that guide other drug plans in the country, according to Health Canada.
Dr. Cornelia Wieman, a psychiatrist who has worked on aboriginal reserves, found that Health Canada does not cover certain prescriptions for antipsychotics – unless the patient has tried other medicines without notice for improvement. She made the statement last week before a parliamentary county that focuses on the high suicide rates in First Nations communities.
This issue is related to the non-insured health services Health Canada program that provides about one billion dollars in annual coverage for eligible First Nations and Inuit for restricted services for prescription drugs, dental care, vision care, medical supplies and equipment, transportation of patients and mental health consultations are not covered by private health insurance programs, provincial or territorial.
Health Canada responded to critics this week.
The spokeswoman Maryse Durette said that to determine which drugs will be provided or not, the department is based on the recommendations of the Canadian Expert Committee on drugs and the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health – a independent organization that helps governments make decisions on health policy.
This committee offers the same advice to all public drug plans in Canada – except Quebec – which are generally used by seniors, welfare recipients and other citizens who need state support to pay their drugs.
Each government can choose whether to follow the recommendations.
“This approach is based on the facts and the recommendations reflect medical and scientific knowledge, current clinical practice, ethical and economic considerations, and the impact on patients and the public,” Ms. Durette said.
“Therefore, the coverage (Non-Insured Health Services) is generally aligned with what is in the provinces and territories,” she added.
Over 99% of the claims do not require prior approval, said the spokesman. And among those subject to this process, 94 percent are allowed after a review.
Dr. Wieman believes that Health Canada should focus on the needs of the people rather than comparing its decisions on other plans in force in the country.
“I do not waste my time thinking about the comparisons with other drug plans. I am interested in (finding) what’s best for our patients, “she began.