Tag Archives: Canadian Health Care

Research I’d Like to See for Canada

(In the UK) Drug giants accused over doctors’ perks: Original story here

Here are some examples:

  • Astra Zeneca paid £2,500 for a doctor at the Royal Bournemouth trust and £1,500 for a doctor at Sheffield teaching hospital to attend a cancer conference in Texas
  • Sanofi-Aventis, the world’s fourth biggest pharmaceutical company, paid for doctors at the Countess of Chester trust to go to conferences in Cape Town, New Orleans and Barcelona. At Gateshead trust, their reps gave a breakfast for 30 staff "to discuss drugs for the treatment of breast cancer". The trust’s register records that "the donor was seeking to secure business".
  • Roche spent £2,000 for an oncology consultant at Addenbrooke’s hospital in Cambridge to go to a conference in May last year.
  • GSK, the biggest British pharmaceutical company, paid £1,200 for a consultant at Sheffield teaching hospital to attend the 11th international congress of Parkinson’s disease and movement disorders in Turkey last June.
  • Companies have also been taking hospital staff to top football and rugby matches. Carillion, a public sector construction firm, spent £180 taking a senior manager at Milton Keynes trust to lunch and then a rugby match at Twickenham last August.

And the best quote of all:

Most doctors deny that their reliance on drug company cash makes them biased. The pharmaceutical companies argue that they are helping doctors acquire further medical education by funding their trips to conferences in foreign cities, but they refuse to reveal how much they pay out.

In Canada, we’ve hit the level of having health care at any price.  The Romanow report identified that pharmaceuticals make up one of the largest components of our spend on our health and we should have a nationalized system of generic drugs in order to mitigate the impact of these costs.

I believe that it’s the massive profits going to pharma companies that are threatening the stability of our health care system and that we should follow the Romanow recommendations (most of which have been largely ignored by our leaders).  More importantly, we should encourage the development of a health care system, where people have the right to choose from a list of options (including naturopathic solutions) as opposed to being bullied by practitioners into taking the latest cosmetic drug.

What are your thoughts?

10 Myths About Canadian Healthcare

This story was posted to a couple of locations:

Link 1

Link 2

I always get a little nervous when too many people compare the American ‘system’ to Canada’s health care program, mainly because it sometimes makes me think that we’re going to lose ours rather than Americans getting a new, wonderful program that will service anyone and everyone.

Seriously … which do you think is a more likely scenario? Especially when we have the Harpies who want to privatize everything?

While this is a fantastic review and I highly recommend reading it, what seems to be missing is a review of expenditures related to the health care program.

Roy Romanow wrote a review of Canada’s health care system that should be required reading for anyone investigating the ups and downs of what we’ve got compared to others.

In Canada, there’s suggestion that we’re moving away from both ‘health’ and ‘care’ (I know this to be false after a recent visit for some tests). The suggestion lies in the sheer numbers related to spending. In most cases, it’s not available, but one source, the Romanow review, outlines the main expenditures:

Total public/private expenditures on health care: approx $120 / year.

Pharma: Estimated annual spend on pharmaceuticals is about $1200 per person (in 2001), or about $40 billion per year. Provinces cover roughly half of this expense, so roughly $20 billion per year goes to companies who have profit maximization as their main goal.

Romanow recommends a National Drug Agency, which would cap these costs.

Hardware / equipment: Another massive cost related to our health care system is equipment. Estimates range from 25-35%, which means that Canadian public is investing about $40 billion per year in MRIs, CAT scans and other equipment that is used for diagnosis, treatment and post-op care.

It’s hard to conceive of a hospital running without the basics (tables, tools, machinery, etc), but the hard truth is that this expense is again a direct subsidy to multi-national suppliers that have profilitability as their first concern.

Administration: Many critics of the health care system point to unions and other expenses related to labour, but the reality is that a growing proportion of admin expenses go to high-level positions.

Again, a hospital without a head or a selection of well-qualified senior executives is no way to run a viable health care system, but at some point, we will have to focus on how to improve the ratio of doctors and nurses to bureaucrats.

Finally, prevention: before a couple of months ago, when I was treated exceptionally well by the staff in London, I believed that our system was not about prevention. I would suggest that we need to turn more focus to the causes of disease rather than just running for them. I think there’s a lot of ways that we could improve our health so that the cost isn’t as onerous, and most of my ideas usually centre around levies or ‘consumption taxes’ related to junk food, cigarettes, fast food and impulse items like $6 lattes.

The GST would have been a perfect tool for this. Reduce/eliminate it with goods that you want people to consume (bikes, fitness memberships, athletic equipment, running shoes) and hike it up to outrageous proportions on things mentioned above. It would force a drastic and yet simple shift to those things that will make our lives better.

It’s impossible to guage how much Canadians could save if they ran their health care system properly, but there’s one thing I know: if private service ever hits the blocks, I’ll invest enough money from my own pocket to send every Canadian MP a copy of Michael Moore’s SICKO.