In some countries, several hundred essential medications are publicly funded or widely available. Only a fraction of all available medications, our research predicts that a short, publicly funded list of several hundred medications in Canada would save an astounding $3 billion a year.
Before moving forward to implement and maintain a possible national essential-medicines list or national medicines formulary in Canada, it should be determined if a short list of essential medicines would be accepted by those who would be most directly affected by its use; prescribers and patients.
Do Canadian patients and prescribers think that publicly funding a short list of medications is a good idea for Canada?
To find out, we analyzed data from the CLEAN Meds trial. The trial asked patients and prescribers what they thought of the short list of medicines we used in the trial, and whether they thought that implementing it would be a good idea. The consensus was that the short list is comprehensive and provides access to medicines commonly prescribed. There was support from both patients and prescribers for publicly funding a list of essential medicines and participants agreed this should be achieved imminently, though some felt the list should be expanded in order to be suitable for the general population.
This study will help decision makers to better understand the perceived benefits and challenges to implementing an essential medicines list or national medicines formulary in Canada. Our ultimate goal is to support the implementation of universal, public coverage of essential medicines.