What is the acceptability of free access to a short list of essential medicines to patients and their prescribers?

Part of the Carefully seLected and Easily Accessible at No charge Medication Study (CLEAN Meds Study).


Access to Medications

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.

Access to Medications

Dr. Nav Persaud

Dr. Nav Persaud has dedicated his career to narrowing the health gap between the highest and lowest wealth brackets, and to ensuring that everyone in Canada can afford the medication that they need. Dr. Persaud is a Canada Research Chair in Health Justice.



  • Itunuoluwa Adekoya, Research Assistant
  • Muhamad Ally, Keenan Research Summer Student
  • Dr. Anjli Bali, Research Coordinator
  • Hannah Woods, Research Coordinator


  • Canadian Institutes of Health Research
  • Ontario SPOR (Strategy for Patient Oriented Research) Support Unit

Contact Info

Dr. Nav Persaud

Principal Investigator