News / Ottawa

Review board recommends drug plans cover abortion pill

New report comes weeks after New Brunswick announced it would cover the cost for all women.

The pan-Canadian drug review board has recommended provincial drug plans cover the cost of the abortion pill. In Ontario, it currently costs between $300 and $450.

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The pan-Canadian drug review board has recommended provincial drug plans cover the cost of the abortion pill. In Ontario, it currently costs between $300 and $450.

In a new report released Thursday, the Canadian Drug Expert Committee (CDEC) recommended that drug plans cover the cost of the abortion pill.

The pan-Canadian advisory body, which considers a drug’s safety, effectiveness and value for money compared to other treatments, reviewed Mifegymiso, a two-drug combination commonly known as the abortion pill, during its March 15th meeting.

Now it’s up to individual provinces to decide if they will cover the drug under their respective plans.

The Ministry of Health will wait to see whether jurisdictions across Canada pursue a joint-negotiation of the drug’s cost, under the pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance, before making a decision, spokesperson David Jensen said in an e-mail.

NDP health critic France Gélinas said she thinks it’s wise for the province to go through the negotiation process to get a fair price for the drug, “but what I don’t want is those negotiations to not be scheduled, or be scheduled to start in a year from now.”

Meanwhile, even if Ontario adds Mifegymiso to its drug plan, barriers to accessing it will remain, according to Catherine Macnab, executive director of Planned Parenthood Ottawa.

“Most of us aren’t eligible for health plans, so this means the working poor and other people are still going to have to pay out of pocket,” she said, adding Ontario should follow New Brunswick's move earlier this month and cover the drug for all women, especially as OHIP already covers surgical abortions.

“It’s not in alignment that somebody has to pay for the earlier intervention that’s less invasive, less recovery, less use of medical resources,” she said. "It's better for the patient and better for the system."

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