B.C. families pay less at the pharmacy

By Contributor
April 3rd, 2013

British Columbians will soon notice they are paying less for many of the generic prescription drugs they need for their health.

Starting April 1, a new drug pricing regulation will reduce the price of generic drugs to 25 per cent of the brand name price, from the current rate of 35 per cent of the brand name price. The price will further drop to 20 per cent in April 2014.

“Thanks to this regulation, B.C. families will pay less at the till when they fill their prescriptions. These price reductions will also save money for the provincial government – money that can be used instead to help enhance patient care in B.C.’s health system,” said Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid.

The drug price regulation is the first in a suite of regulations required to fully implement the Pharmaceutical Services Act, which came into force in May 2012. The act shifts B.C.’s PharmaCare program from relying on government policy, to being protected by legislation.

The regulation allows the Minister of Health to regulate the price of prescription drugs. Generic drugs have the same quality, strength, purity and stability as their brand name equivalents and are made to the same strict standards.

“Reducing the price of generic drugs benefits our clients by making prescription drugs more affordable for families and employer insurance plans,” said Kenneth G. Martin, president and CEO of Pacific Blue Cross. “We support this regulation, as it brings B.C. in line with other Canadian jurisdictions and helps ensure fair and consistent pricing.”

“As retirees and members of the Municipal Pension Retirees Association, we believe that seniors jeopardize their health to pay for costly drugs,” said Steven Polak, president of the Municipal Pension Retirees Association. “The new drug legislation introduced by the government has changed this. Now we, the MPRA, believe that seniors can have the drugs needed at a cost seniors can afford.”

BC PharmaCare helps British Columbians with the cost of eligible prescription drugs and designated medical supplies. As one of the most comprehensive drug programs in Canada, it provides reasonable access to drug therapy for every British Columbian through several drug plans.

Under B.C.’s Families First Agenda, government is working to make life more affordable for all British Columbians. To learn more, or to share your ideas, visit: www.familiesfirstbc.ca

Examples of savings as a result of the drug price regulation:

  • The current cost, not including standard pharmacy fees, of a 30-day prescription of the cholesterol-lowering drug Crestor is $44. The price of the generic version of this drug today is 35 per cent of the brand name price, or about $15.40.
  • On April 1, the price of the generic drug will be reduced to 25 per cent of the brand name price, or $11. On April 1 2014, the price of the generic drug will be further reduced to 20 per cent, or $8.80.
  • The anti-platelet drug Plavix currently costs $85.20 for a typical 30-day prescription, not including standard pharmacy fees. Currently, the generic version costs 35 per cent of that amount, or about $29.20.
  • On April 1, the price of the generic version drops to 25 per cent of the brand name, $21.30. A year later, the price of the generic drug will be reduced to about $17.

Learn More:

For more information on how lowering generic drug prices fits with B.C.’s balanced budget, please visit: www.budget2013.ca/featuredpages/prescriptions/

Fair PharmaCare provides British Columbians with assistance with prescription costs. Deductible levels are set to reflect patients’ ability to pay. The lowest income earners pay no deductible at all, and those born in or before 1939 receive enhanced assistance.

For more information on BC PharmaCare, click: www.health.gov.bc.ca/pharmacare/

ThinkHealth BC has an interesting and informative video on how PharmaCare works at: www.thinkhealthbc.ca/videos/19

Categories: GeneralHealth