How have other countries faced rising drug costs? And why do Canadians get the splintery tongue depressor when it comes to prescriptions?
First of all, because we do not have universal prescription coverage, we pay too damn much for the drugs we are getting. According to this CBC Report, drug company representatives influence doctors’ choices in prescribing:
The research conducted for the fifth estate by health benefits company Express Scripts Canada shows employer-funded private insurance plans in Canada wasted more than $3 billion per year between 2011 and 2015 by covering the cost of expensive drugs that have cheaper options, as well as paying for unnecessary dispensing fees.
Adding to that is the fact that other countries tell the drug companies how much they will spend on drugs. In this report we learn
An analysis by the fifth estate shows that Canadians, for example, pay far more than people in New Zealand for drugs produced by the largest Canadian-owned pharmaceutical company.
For every dollar Canadians spend on seven popular drugs sold by Apotex in both countries, Kiwis spend just 11.5 cents.
And overall, according to several studies, Canadians pay the second-highest drug prices in the world, after only people living in the United States.
So add those two problems — higher drug costs and lack of universal coverage — and you have one big problem. Many people do not fill or take their prescribed drugs. And THAT costs us money, too.
A study at the University of British Columbia showed that
In an analysis of survey responses from all 11 countries, the researchers found that Canada had the second-highest prevalence of skipped prescriptions due to cost, at 8.3 per cent. Access was worse only in the United States, where 16.8 per cent of respondents reported such financial barriers to filling prescriptions. In contrast, fewer than four per cent of the populations in most other comparable countries reported skipping prescriptions due to cost.
And the result of that barrier to filling prescriptions?
“When patients stop filling their prescriptions, their conditions get worse and they often end up in hospital requiring more care which in the long run costs us more money,” said Steve Morgan, senior author of the study and professor in UBC’s school of population and public health.
It’s time for federally-funded prescription coverage.