Providing medication for free shows cost benefits, sticking to regimens: study


Free access to medicine increases the likelihood that patients will adhere to taking it and reduces total health spending, researchers of a new study say.

The study, published in PLOS Medicine Friday, found that providing free access to essential medicines increases patient adherence to taking medication by 35 per cent and reduces total health spending by an average of over $1,000 per patient, per year.

Researchers from St. Michael’s Hospital of Unity Health Toronto, recruited 786 patients across nine primary care sites in Ontario who had reported they had cost-related issues for sticking with their medication regimen.

Study participants across the nine sites were separated into two groups: half received free medication via mail and the other half had their usual access to medications. Two years into the study, those with free medication adhered to their prescribed regimen 35 per cent more than the group with their usual access to medication and reduced their health-care costs, including hospitalization, by $1,222 a year.

“The cost savings are substantial, but they are less important than people simply being able to afford taking lifesaving medications,” said lead author of the study Dr. Nav Persaud in a release.

Ensuring we give the vaccine rollout for children our best shot

By Drs. Sloane Freeman & Ripudaman Minhas


As the COVID-19 pandemic has unfolded across the globe, its impact on children has tended to be an afterthought. While the largest burden of death and disease severity was in their grandparents’ generation, children and youth have grappled with severed social ties, mounting communal stress and widespread school closures due to concerns about their role in transmission of the virus.

On Tuesday, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) approved the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in children and youth 12 years and up in Canada. This is an exciting step toward safely opening schools and achieving herd immunity. However, as pediatricians, we have big concerns about how the vaccine will be rolled out to children and youth. Optimizing rollout will require us to learn from experiences with the adult vaccination strategies, think about specific pediatric considerations and address important barriers to equitable access.

Census 2021: Canadians are talking about race. But the census hasn’t caught up


This May, Canadians will again be asked if they identify as a member of a set list of minority groups when filling out the long-form census. That data is used to measure the portion of Canada’s population that are designated as visible minorities, a concept and term increasingly out of step with the times.

The pandemic has laid bare racial inequalities, and racial justice activist groups, like Black Lives Matter, have put anti-Black racism high on the public agenda. Systemic racism, rather than visible minority status, is at the centre of debate. While Canadians are now talking more explicitly about race, the census has yet to catch up.