The National Post has run a good op-ed which dispels some of the common beliefs used to argue against publicly-funded universal prescription drug coverage, and exposes some of the ways that pharmaceutical companies become less helpful the more profits they make.
More than 80% of new drugs entering the market today do not represent any therapeutic advance compared to existing, cheaper drugs. If we have private drug plans that reimburse any new drug, no matter the cost, when there are cheaper, equivalent drugs available, do we really provide incentives for drug companies to invest in breakthrough innovations? In fact, the opposite occurs: Ee give them a huge incentive to bring reformulations of existing products to market.
In contrast, the universal pharmacare system in the United Kingdom employs market forces in an ingenious way. Through value-based pricing, drug companies get paid according to how much they improve the health outcomes of the population. This creates formidable market incentives for pharmaceutical companies to focus on therapeutic innovation instead of lavish promotions and copycat drugs.