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Canadian Views on Prescription Drug Coverage

[Ottawa – May 22, 2013] – A new poll commissioned by the Canadian Health Coalition (CHC) and the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU) reveals that a clear majority of Canadians feel that access to prescription drugs should be based on the patient’s medical needs, and most would support a universal drug plan to ensure that all Canadians are covered for medically necessary prescription drugs. The CHC and CFNU commissioned EKOS Research Associates to conduct a survey of Canadians’ views on prescription drug coverage in Canada. The survey was conducted online with 1,041 Canadians from across the country. Fieldwork for the survey was conducted from May 2-8, 2013.

Results from the survey reveal that most Canadians paid less than $1,000 for prescription drugs in the past year, although a sizeable minority (21%) indicated that they paid $1,000 or more for prescriptions. Those 45 years of age and older are particularly likely to report spending $1,000 or more on prescription drugs.

When asked if, in the past five years, there was a time they decided not to fill a prescription because of the cost, most Canadians (76%) indicated this was not the case. However, a significant minority of Canadians (23%) said this had occurred, particularly those earning less than $20,000 in annual household income (49%), those with less than high school education (32%), and B.C. residents (32%).

When asked about their views regarding access to prescription drugs, a clear majority of Canadians (78%) felt that access to prescription drugs should be based on the patient’s medical needs. Only about one in ten felt that access to prescription drugs should be based on the level of coverage of their provincial (territorial) and workplace plans (10%), or the patient’s ability to pay (8%). B.C. (84%) and Ontario (81%) residents are particularly likely to feel that access to prescription drugs should be based on the patient’s medical needs

Canadians were informed that the price of prescription drugs is, on average, higher in Canada than in all other industrialized countries, except the United States. They were then asked if they would support bulk-purchasing of drugs combined with strong negotiations for lower prices with drug companies. Eight in ten Canadians (82%) support this idea and only 5% are opposed (13% are unsure). Support is highest among those 65 years of age and older (89%) and men (88%).

Finally, when asked if they support a universal public drug plan to ensure that all Canadians are covered for necessary prescription drugs, more than three-quarters (78%) support this idea, and fewer than one in seven (14%) are opposed (8% are unsure). Support for this idea is highest in B.C. (83%), among middle income earners ($40,000-$60,000 in annual household income-84%), and among those with high school education or less (82%).

English: Press Release (May 22, 2013)
Français: Press Release (May 22, 2013)

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