It’s a familiar scene to many; with prescription in hand, you walk up to the order desk at the pharmacy and apprehensively wait to hear what this latest drug is going to cost. And for seniors on a limited income, who may sometimes have to choose between filling their prescriptions and buying groceries, the answer is often heartbreaking.
A Toronto family doctor wants to change all that and open up opportunities for discussions between patients and doctors about medication costs and possible alternatives, before they head to the drugstore. Doctors don’t often have this conversation with their patients because they don’t know the price of all the medications they are prescribing, if there are less expensive options or if the drugs are covered by insurance plans. Dr. Iris Gorfinkel argues that if drug prices were easily searchable in existing electronic records systems, doctors would save patients and themselves a lot of back and forth with insurance providers as well as unnecessary stress and worry.
Gorfinkel started a petition, now endorsed by the Ontario Medical Association, urging the provincial government to add drug prices to the existing records systems where they could be quickly and easily accessed by prescribing doctors.
According to a recent national survey reported by CBCNews, more than one in five Canadians said someone in their household didn’t take their drugs as prescribed, sometime not at all, because of the cost. And Canada has among the highest prescription drug prices in the world, despite falling research and development funding.
To read more about efforts to mandate drug cost transparency, follow this link to the Canadian Medical Association Journal.