Not surprisingly, funding and access to these drugs can be a challenge for patients and their families. That’s why the federal government is currently consulting on the development of a national strategy. The goal is to improve drug access – and ensure a sustainable funding model, developed with evidence-based decision-making.

This is an important issue for employers. Private health plans currently cover more than 13,000 Canadians with rare diseases. The total spend on rare disease drugs alone by Canadian private plans was approximately $650 million in 2020.1

We support the federal government’s work to improve access and affordability. We also believe that private payers and employers are important stakeholders in the ongoing provision of these drugs. Any strategy should improve access to treatments. But it should do so without affecting the drug coverage and health benefits that working Canadians depend on today.

We encourage you to review Access to high-cost drugs for rare diseases: private payers need to be part of the solution. It sets out the issues and highlights the importance of private payer participation in any new strategy.

We’re also making plan sponsors aware of the Bright Paper directly through a Focus Update on May 20, 2021.


For more information, please contact your Sun Life Group Benefits representative.


1Based on data collected from CLHIA member companies. The list of drugs used is based on the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board’s list of rare disease drugs (2018) plus additional drugs that have launched since 2018.