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Cost causing Canadians to say no to prescribed drugs

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Summary

Have you ever decided against taking your meds because of how expensive they are?

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – One in 12 Canadians 55 years and older have decided not to take drugs their doctor said they should take, based on the cost.

This is according to a recently released study from UBC.

This situation is causing people’s manageable health conditions to get worse, according to professor Steve Morgan with UBC’s school of population and public health, who says this costs us all more money in the end.

He says the solution is universal drug coverage, noting we’re nations that have universal health care generally cover the meds too.

“There’s been a lot of studies that have shown that when patients don’t fill prescriptions for various reasons, including costs, then their conditions get worse over time, and they can end up using more health services like hospital visits, etc.,” says Morgan. “We believe that in the Canadian context the barriers that are being experienced by Canadians to filling prescriptions are actually a significant drag on the rest of the health care system.”

But if Morgan is expecting a change, Health Minister Terry Lake suggests that isn’t forthcoming.

“In British Columbia, we have a ‘Fair PharmaCare’ program, so it’s based on people’s income,” says Lake. “It is the fairest way to do that. To cover all prescription medications would be about an $8-billion cost across Canada. Some of that cost is currently being paid by extended health care, so it would come over to the taxpayer. That doesn’t mean we can’t take some of Dr. Morgan’s ideas and we are doing that through the Pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance by getting deals across the country, and in fact we have reduced the costs of generic drugs and also drugs like hepatitis C drugs to a great extent through this cooperative program that we have with provinces and territories.”

Morgan’s research draws on the 2014 Commonwealth Fund International Health Policy Survey of Older Adults from 11 “high income” countries.