Medication Affordability

​​​Helping your patients afford the medication they need 

As the price of food, housing and other necessities keeps increasing, the cost of much-needed prescription medicine may make it impossible for some of your patients to obtain without support.

An Angus Reid poll showed that in 2020, 23 percent of patients in Canada made difficult decisions about taking medicine – such as splitting doses or not filling prescriptions - because they can't afford it.  This leads to patients who are more likely to be sicker, unable to work and more likely to need the healthcare system. Access to prescription medications can prevent unnecessary use of healthcare resources and help care providers to focus on other patients.

By understanding your patients' ability to afford medication and the programs available to help, you can improve health outcomes and help prevent unnecessary, repeat hospitalization or visits.

Quick Steps on Talking to Patients about Medication Affordability:                                                        

The following steps may help you manage medication affordability in a timely and efficient manner.

Ask all of your patients if they struggle to afford their prescription medication 

  • Including not filling medications, cutting pills in half, skipping days, or foregoing other needs (food, rent, bills) in order to afford medication.​
  • If they answer yes:
    • Advise them to sign up for Fair PharmaCare*
    • Review medications for possible generic alternatives
    • Give them a copy of this patient infographic and invite them to make a future appointment to go over it with you
  • * Encourage them to register for Fair Pharmacare
       Research suggests that only 40% of people in BC are actually registered for Fair Pharmacare, so key that we send people that direction.
    • Your patient might not be aware of the Fair Pharmacare program, or realize that they need to register.
    • This BC Government program may be able to significantly reduce their costs and increase their ability to afford and take life saving medication prescription costs. Visit the website or call 604-683-7151 (from the Lower Mainland) and 1-800-663-7100 (from the rest of BC) 

Strategies to Address Medication Affordability

  • Talk with your patient about medication affordability
  • Encourage patients to enroll into Fair PharmaCare as soon as possible
  • Encourage patients to apply for monthly deductible payments by calling Fair Pharmacare
  • Contact pharmaceutical companies to ask about patient assistance programs
  • Encourage patients to speak to community pharmacists
  • Deprescribe when possible (see https://deprescribing.org/ or https://choosingwiselycanada.org/)
  • Prescribe generic medication
  • Consider single-agent rather than combination-agent medications
  • Ensure that you have applied for special authority for non-benefit drugs
  • Provide 100-day supplies for stable patients

Support your patient:

  • Consider your patient's ability to pay for medication when setting up discharge plans, as this can affect their wellbeing and the chance of readmission
  • Download the flyers on the resouces page and give them to your patients. They include information about medication affordability and where to go for help.
  • Follow up with your patient to make sure that they have taken advantage of affordability programs and are taking their medication.
  • Share this information with other care providers who might not be aware of medication affordability issues​