Health minister Mike de Jong (left) and NDP leader Adrian Dix (right).

Scrimping on meds to save cash most prevalent in B.C.

Patients here more cost-averse in using medicine than rest of Canada

A new study has found B.C. patients are much likelier than other Canadians to refuse to take prescribed medicine because of the cost.

The Canadian Medical Association Journal analyzed 2007 Statistics Canada survey data and found 17 per cent of B.C. residents did not follow prescriptions as directed in order to save money in the previous year.

That was more than double the 7.2 per cent rate reported by Quebecers and well above the national average of 9.6 per cent of respondents who scrimped on their drugs to save cash.

Failing to fill or refill a prescription on time or skipping doses can make treatment less effective and worsen chronic diseases, the journal noted.

“We did not expect that cost-related non-adherence would be highest in British Columbia,” the CMAJ research paper said.

“This finding might result from the province’s high-deductible public drug plan or the high level of personal debt among its residents.”

The CMAJ report said providing better coverage to improve prescription use would likely reduce spending in other areas, such as acute care admissions to hospital.

Health Minister Mike de Jong said he wants the disparity between B.C. and the rest of the country investigated further.

Prescription drug costs are entirely covered, with no deductible, for more than 270,000 low-income patients in B.C. – the poorest 10 per cent.

“We need to take a closer look at why some residents report having challenges accessing prescriptions,” de Jong said in a statement.

He noted a 40-year-old on social assistance who racks up nearly $1,400 in drug costs to control hypertension should pay nothing out of pocket, while other categories of low-income patients might pay around 30 per cent of their true drug cost themselves.

NDP leader Adrian Dix said he believes the problem is not the poor but middle-income earners who struggle against high housing prices and rising health premiums, ICBC premiums, electricity rates and other costs.

“It shows the growth in inequality and how much pressure there is today on middle-income people,” Dix said. “One in six people are not taking the drugs they need because it’s too expensive – twice as much as anywhere else.”

The CMAJ study found underuse of prescriptions due to cost was most prevalent among low-income earners without medical insurance – more than 35 per cent reported doing it.

But nearly 15 per cent of the highest-income earners without insurance also resorted to the practice – more than the lowest-income earners with insurance.

Dix argued B.C. could have done much more to keep a lid on pharmaceutical prices, which have skyrocketed over the past 20 years, had it been more prepared to stand up to drug companies.

He noted B.C.’s pricing structure charges patients more for generic drugs – 35 per cent of brand name cost – compared to just 25 per cent in Ontario and Quebec.

The health ministry said B.C. has the lowest per capita drug expenditure in the country at $573 per person and provides more extensive drug coverage on many fronts.

Just Posted

Bad behaviour to lead to expulsion at Abbotsford council

New rules lay out how a member can be booted from a meeting

More extreme weather beds needed in Mission

Council allocates another $5,000 to help keep people safe, warm and dry

Input sought for road works for Maple Ridge

Consultation on Haney Bypass upgrades

Trial begins for man charged with 2010 murder of Mandy Johnson

Langley single mom was fatally shot while in vehicle in Abbotsford

KPU campuses go smoke-free starting Jan. 21 – and that includes vaping

‘We didn’t make this decision lightly’ says prez of the Surrey-based institution

B.C. cougar kitten rescued after mother struck by vehicle

Conservation Officers find home for young kitten found dehydrated and frostbitten near Williams Lake

B.C. VIEWS: Public school ‘crisis’ doesn’t exist

More teachers pour in, union wants results suppressed

Input sought for major road works for Maple Ridge

Consultation on Haney Bypass upgrades

Pitt councillors don’t support CP Rail underpass

Gateway projects will need city support says MP Ruimy

Suspected Toronto serial killer targeting gay community arrested

A 66-year-old man is charged with first-degree murder in disappearance of two Toronto men

Carpet bowlers have been excluded from BC 55+ Games and Canada 55+ Games

Gold medal carpet bowling winners not able to defend their titles in 2018

No crackdown, just education as BC Ferries’ enacts smoking ban

Fines and extra patrols not happening at this time as ban begins Monday

Mission Cancer Society to host final Burns Supper

Event will be dedicted to the memory of Jimmy Logan

UPDATE: Police release new footage, launch website in hunt for 13-year-old’s killer

IHIT say no one has been arrested or charged in connection with Marrisa Shen’s death

Most Read