issues

What patient groups are saying

Arthritis Consumer Experts

"We are very concerned about senior and low-income patients' health with the expansion of the Reference Drug Program as they are typically the first to feel the negative consequences of policy reform. When the BC government's planned policy is enacted, these vulnerable individuals and other patients relying on BC PharmaCare will not be able to afford their current medication, medication that is keeping them well or from declining health," said Cheryl Koehn, BPC founding member and president of Arthritis Consumer Experts. "Changing a medication in a stabilized patient strictly based on an expanded government pricing scheme is contrary to best practice in today's policy development environment. We fully support a "patients first" approach and so should governments. Policy should preserve and uphold the health care system's desire to deliver precision medicine."

Gastrointestinal Society

"The BPC has been clear from its inception and through consultations with the BC government's Pharmaceutical Task Force, that Reference Drug Program expansion will reduce quality health care at the individual level. An economic study,1 conducted after RDP was introduced in BC in 1995, revealed that the policy pushed costs to other parts of the health care system, generated negative health outcomes for the elderly and low-income patients. A 2009 study led by the Canadian Society of Intestinal Research2 showed that changing medication against doctor's orders, which BC PharmaCare predicted would preserve $42 million in the drug budget, actually cost the BC government $43 million more, a difference of $85 million for BC," said Gail Attara, BPC member and CEO of the Gastrointestinal Society.


1 Aslam Anis. Why is calling an ACE an ACE so controversial? Evaluating reference-based pricing in British Columbia. Canadian Medical Association Journal. 2002; 166(6):763-764.
2 Skinner BJ, Gray JR, Attara GP. Increased health costs from mandated Therapeutic Substitution of proton pump inhibitors in British Columbia. Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics. 2009;29(8):882–891.

Canadian Save Your Skin Foundation

"When a disease is under control using a specific medication, the old adage rings true: 'don't fix what isn't broken.' Non-medical medication switching drives, instead of saves, costs. Hidden costs of switching stable patients to cheaper therapies include increased visits to hospital emergency rooms, loss of adherence with switched medication, new side effects with the switched medication, necessitating additional prescriptions, and loss of or reduced disease control," said Kathy Barnard, Founder and President of the Canadian Save Your Skin Foundation.

Better Pharmacare Coalition

"The government needs to understand what doctors already know—patients are unique and they cannot be treated with a cookie cutter approach. Government should make every effort to meaningfully consult with Better Pharmacare Coalition members and the 2 million patients they represent in BC when contemplating any change that will touch even one patient's life. We are ready, willing, and able to work by their sides to get it right for BC patients," said Rennie Hoffman, Executive Director, Better Pharmacare Coalition.

What Patient Groups are Saying: Better Pharmacare Coalition organizations poll their membership

To underline patient concern around the proposed changes to the Reference Drug Program, individual member organizations of the BPC conducted a survey of their organization's membership between April 1—April 30, 2016.

The survey results provide an accurate reflection of specific patient population's concerns about RDP expansion compared to the results of the public opinion poll.

The survey results from the BPC member organizations revealed that more than 90% of patients from Arthritis Consumer Experts, BC Lung Association, BC Schizophrenia Society and Canadian Arthritis Patient Alliance were 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 individual BPC member organization surveys also found a significantly higher percentage of respondents compared to the general public poll were concerned about changing BC PharmaCare's Reference Drug Program to specify a 'reference product' that patients must take, or be forced to pay the difference out-of-pocket to stay on their current therapy.

Please use these links to see the individual results from: