Session Type: ACR/ARHP Combined Abstract Session
Session Time: 9:00AM-11:00AM
Background/Purpose: Prescription medications are an important treatment option for patients living with arthritis. However, patients may often not have access to certain medications they hear about in the news, in part because a medication may not meet regulatory or reimbursement criteria, or may not be included in a person’s private health insurance drug coverage. The purpose of this study is to understand knowledge about access to prescription medications in Canada.
Methods: A 20-minute pre- post-survey was conducted using a market research panel. The survey asked questions about prescription drug reimbursement coverage (e.g. are they covered in public drug plans and whether it differs across provinces), the regulatory approval process (e.g. what information is used by Health Canada), who pays for a drug covered by the public drug plan and how it is paid for (e.g. new money versus existing money), and the percentage of the cost that is paid by public drug plans, paid directly by the patient, or not filled by older Canadians due to affordability.
Results: A total of 705 Canadians completed the survey. Most respondents were from Ontario (51%), British Columbia (14%), Alberta (11%), and Quebec (11%). Knowledge on the process of prescription drug approval is low. Most respondents were unaware of the type of information is assessed by Health Canada in the approval process (80%) (many thought that price or cost-effectiveness were considered at this stage). Only 55% of respondents knew that certain prescription drugs paid for by the public drug plan may be covered in some parts of Canada but not others, and only 9% knew that federal recommendation and provincial agreement are required before a Health Canada approved prescription drug is covered by public drug plans (91%). Interestingly, 80% of respondents thought new money is allocated to new drugs that are approved (while current practice often requires money to be diverted from existing spending). Respondents also overestimated how much Canadians pay directly for prescription medications, and how many older Canadians did not fill a prescription because of affordability. Participants were motivated to learn more, particularly about costs and accountability in the Canadian health care system.
Conclusion: The general lack of knowledge about regulatory and reimbursement access to prescription medications limits informed dialogue with patients and the public. This includes changes to the approval process of prescription medications and how decisions are made around allocating budgets to certain prescription drugs. We have developed an educational video that seeks to improve this knowledge and engage patients and the public in these important conversations.
To cite this abstract in AMA style:Bansback N, Koehn CL, Chiu J, Mulder M, Li L. Access to Prescription Drugs in Canada: Results from an Online Survey [abstract]. Arthritis Rheumatol. 2018; 70 (suppl 10). https://acrabstracts.org/abstract/access-to-prescription-drugs-in-canada-results-from-an-online-survey/. Accessed September 23, 2021.
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