|Researchers found that hospitals and provincial governments could save by harmonizing their drug plans. (SHUTTERSTOCK) |
Taxpayers could save nearly $2 million a year on prescription drug costs if hospitals and provincial governments harmonize their drug plans, says a doctor and researcher at St. Mike's Hospital in Toronto.
Total spending on health care in Canada last year was close to $200 billion -- roughly $5,800 per Canadian -- according to information from the Canadian Institute for Health Information, an independent organization partly funded by provincial health ministries.
Medications account for around 16% of those costs, said Dr. Chaim Bell, who looked at three of the most commonly prescribed classes of drugs -- those used to treat high blood pressure and heart failure, stomach ulcers and acid reflux.
If the cheapest version of each drug had been prescribed, taxpayers would have saved $1.6 million on PPIs; $162,000 on ACE inhibitors; and $14,000 on ARBs.
The disconnect, Bell said, is that some patients are prescribed drugs from hospitals' in-house formularies while others are discharged with prescriptions they have to fill through publicly funded drug benefit programs, without consideration for which is the most cost-effective use of health care dollars.
"It's all taxpayers' money. Whether it's billed to a hospital cost centre or a government drug plan cost centre, it all comes from the same source."
Bell's findings appear Wednesday in the scientific journal PLoS ONE.
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