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Canada pays more for meds

Canada had the second-highest medication costs for common conditions such as high blood pressure and cholesterol in 2015 compared to nine other affluent countries with universal health-care systems, suggests a new study calling for a national drug plan to lower prices.

Lead author Steven Morgan, a professor at the University of British Columbia's Public School of Health, said the analysis looked at the volume and daily cost of drugs in Canada, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, France, Germany, New Zealand and Australia.

The study, published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, analyzed data involving medications to treat six conditions — high blood pressure, high cholesterol, depression, diabetes, pain, and gastrointestinal issues such as ulcers.

Annual expenditures per capita ranged from $23 in New Zealand to $171 in Switzerland. In Canada, the cost was $158.

High costs for primary-care drugs have major implications for patients, he noted.

"It's estimated that one in 10 Canadians can't fill their prescriptions or chooses not to fill their prescriptions as required because of the out-of-pocket costs associated with that."



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