Breaking News: What is happening today with reference based pricing in BC?The BC government is expanding its program for reference price and reference product through Reference Drug Program (RDP) Modernization. This means that the government is deciding not just the price it will pay for a medicine, but which medicines physicians can prescribe, if patients want BC PharmaCare to cover the cost and if patients want the cost to count toward their Fair PharmaCare deductible.
Through approved amendments to the Drug Price Regulation, the BC government will create the three new reference drug categories.
Starting June 1, 2016, the BC government is creating three new reference drug categories—Angiotensin Receptor Blocker (reduces high blood pressure), Proton Pump Inhibitor (treats GERD/heartburn), and Statin (lowers cholesterol)—and begin transitioning patients from one to another medication in these groups, which could immediately put their health at risk. By December 1, 2016, the new policy will be in effect.
What British Columbians are sayingAn Insights West online poll in December 2015 found that British Columbians oppose expansion of the Ministry of Health's Reference Drug Program based on concerns that expansion could compromise patient health.
A resounding 82% of British Columbians are concerned that administrators of the BC PharmaCare program will be implementing a policy that tells physicians which medications they can prescribe for patients, even if it goes against physicians' opinions of the best care for their patients.
The poll also found that 76% of British Columbians were concerned about changing BC PharmaCare's Reference Drug Program to specify a 'reference product' that patients must take, or they will have to pay the difference out-of-pocket to stay on their current therapy. It is important to note that the concerns are higher among PharmaCare users and those with a history of chronic disease in their household.
Key Insights from poll
- At first, it would seem that PharmaCare is working well. The level of satisfaction is 58% across British Columbia, and fewer than 10% say they are "very dissatisfied" with it.
- There is very little awareness of the PharmaCare Reference Drug Program: fewer than one-in-five British Columbians have seen, heard or read anything about it.
- The reaction of British Columbians to some of the changes brought by the Reference Drug Program is decidedly negative, particularly the notion of program administrators making decisions instead of doctors.
- Once British Columbians were informed of the PharmaCare Reference Drug Program, views change drastically with half saying they believe the policy is bad. It is important to note that the concerns are higher among PharmaCare users and those with a history of chronic disease in their household.
Survey Results: What concerns British Columbians"PharmaCare not being able to handle requests quickly and efficiently if your doctor believes you should get a medication not covered by PharmaCare."—83%
"The administrators of the BC PharmaCare program implementing a policy that tells your doctor which medications he or she can prescribe for you, even if it goes against your doctor's opinion of the best care for you."—82%
"Being unable to pay for more expensive medication that is not covered by PharmaCare."—81%, including 85% of those in the lowest income bracket (less than $50k a year).
"Paying out-of-pocket for medications creating a financial hardship for you and your family."—79%, including 88% of those in the lowest income bracket.
"Changing BC PharmaCare's Reference Drug Program to specify a 'reference product' you must take, or having to pay the difference out-of-pocket to stay on your current therapy."—76%
Survey Results: What British Columbians Agree On"I might have to stop taking a medication for financial reasons if is if not fully covered by PharmaCare."—70%, including 85% of those in the lowest income bracket agree with this statement.
"Changing my medication because of a government decision, when I am stable on my current medication, will be bad for my health."—79%, including 81% of those aged 55+ agree with this statement.
"A choice of medication should be made together by me and my doctor, rather than by program administrators who are unaware of my medical history."—90% agree with this statement.