Overall health-care costs could be reduced in Canada by providing free prescription drugs to patients, according to a new study.
Led by a researcher from the University of Toronto’s medical school, the three-year study aimed to see how eliminating out-of-pocket medication fees would impact health-care system spending, particularly for patients who reported delaying or not taking prescription drugs due to costs.
“There are millions of Canadians who report not taking medications because of the costs,” lead author and University of Toronto associate professor Dr. Nav Persaud told CTVNews.ca. “We were trying to measure the effects of providing people with free access to medicines, as would happen in a national pharmacare program.”
The study tracked 786 adult patients at nine primary care sites in Ontario who were taking 128 different essential medicines that covered everything from diabetes to depression. In addition to prescriptions, total health-care cost calculations included emergency room trips, hospitalizations, home care, and visits with doctors and specialists.