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Study: Canadians not taking their meds

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OTTAWA — Many Canadians fail to take their medications as prescribed and, in some instances, are not filling their prescriptions, according to a national survey from the Canadian Pharmacists Association (CPhA).

medications_handwithpillsThirty percent of Canadians reported that they have stopped taking medication before advised to do so, and about one in four said they did not fill a prescription they were given or took less medication than prescribed, according to an online survey of 2,000 Canadians conducted earlier this month by Abacus Data.

Of those who did not fill their prescriptions, 20% said it was because their drug plan didn’t cover all the costs, and 12% reported that they didn’t have insurance and couldn’t afford the prescription.

Meanwhile, 45% of Canadians who did not take their medication as directed or stopped taking it said that they felt they no longer needed to take the medicine, and 18% said it made them sick or they didn’t think it was working well. Eight percent said they couldn’t afford to keep taking it.

“Canadians face a multitude of barriers when it comes to effective medication use,” CPhA chairman Carlo Berardi said in a statement. “While being able to afford their medications is first and foremost a fundamental necessity, we also need to ensure that Canadians are supported with the health advice and services pharmacists can provide to improve medication use and adherence.”

CPhA noted that rising medication nonadherence is bad news for Canada’s cash-strapped health care system because the practice leads to repeat visits to clinics and emergency rooms, recurring illnesses and worsening medical conditions.

Affordability is one of the obstacles in improving medication adherence, and the results of the Abacus survey showed broad support for a pan-Canadian pharmacare program that also covers pharmacy services. Part of CPhA’s Pharmacare 2.0 initiative, the national data reflects Canadians’ awareness of the important role of the professional services and health advice provided by pharmacists to dispense, monitor and counsel patients on effective drug use.

Evidence indicates that when pharmacists are involved in chronic disease management, such as diabetes, hypertension and heart disease, health outcomes are improved, the association noted. Each year, Canada’s 39,000 pharmacists fill more than 600 million prescriptions.

“We need to ensure that patients and improved health outcomes are put front and centre in this national discussion,” stated Perry Eisenschmid, chief executive officer of ChPA. “Not only is there a clear need for a pharmacare policy to address the gaps between private and public systems to ensure no Canadian is left without adequate coverage, we also need to provide the solutions for the medication adherence issues costing our health care system.”


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