Study: Thousands of Canadians Die Annually Due to Unaffordable Prescriptions

Even though Canadians have much to applaud as it relates to our health care system, there are also a number of flaws that lead to problematic scenarios for patients.

One real evident issue is how some are unable to afford the prescriptions they so desperately need.

To help draw attention to this matter, the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU) has released ‘Body Count,’ a study that “confirms that shortfalls in prescription drug coverage result in daily deaths and illness among people with treatable conditions.”

The study explored cost-related non-adherence (CRNA), or in simpler terms, “the failure to take medications as prescribed due to cost.”

Commented Linda Silas, President of the CFNU: “We’ve known for years that Canada’s system of prescription drug coverage is inefficient and ineffective. Now we know that our system is also costing lives each and every day, while worsening the health of tens of thousands every year.”

Prescription Pills

Here are some of the startling estimates found in the study:

  • Up to 640 deaths among Canadians with ischemic heart disease.
  • Up to 420 deaths among working-age (20-64) Canadians with diabetes.
  • Up to 670 deaths among older working-age Canadians (55-64).
  • Up to 70,000 Canadians (age 55+) suffering avoidable health status deterioration.
  • Up to 12,000 Canadians (age 40+) with cardiovascular disease requiring overnight hospitalization.

The study’s lead author, Dr. Ruth Lopert, shared the findings of ‘Body Count’ on the morning of May 1 to parliamentarians and health care stakeholders on Parliament Hill.

“These numbers paint a stark picture of the true cost of financial barriers to prescription medications in Canada,” said Dr. Lopert. “Despite a lack of data availability, my research team used three different methodologies to arrive at these findings. They are conservative estimates that represent only part of the bigger picture of the cost-related non-adherence crisis in Canada.”

In April, a parliamentary committee recommended a universal single-payer pharmacare plan. Click here to learn more about that.

-Adam Grant

On a recent episode of “theZoomer,” host Libby Znaimer was joined by Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath, Executive Vice President and Chief Pharmacy Officer for the Ontario Pharmacists Association, Allan Malek, Dr. Steve Morgan, Professor of health policy in the School of Population and Public Health (UBC), and others, to discuss how Canada might institute universal public drug coverage and if Canadians can afford it. You can watch this episode below.