MEDITrust, a major mail-order pharmacy, promises low drug prices and dispensing fees for people who order drugs via mail. Its arrival has created some strong opposition in Quebec. The Canadian Pharmaceutical Association says the arrival of mail-order companies may give community pharmacists an opportunity to promote the benefits of face-to-face contact with pharmacists. The CMA's Dr. Anne Carter says there will always be a need for community pharmacists, who can provide drugs on short notice and provide personal counselling for patients.
Women 65 years old and over make up the fastest growing population segment in North America. They are, particularly among the underprivileged, known to be heavy consumers of prescribed and over-the-counter drugs. The objective of this study was to identify the role of medication in underprivileged elderly women's strategies for aging well and dealing with minor health problems. A qualitative study was conducted among 40 women aged 65 to 75. Results show that elderly women seldom mention resorting to medication to "age well" although they report using this strategy to deal with minor health problems. Overall, the elderly women mentioned a wide range of strategies to cope with aging and minor health problems, which suggests that they are well equipped to face the challenges of aging.
In 2003, the government of British Columbia, Canada introduced a universal drug benefit plan to cover drug costs that are high relative to household income. Residents were required to register in order to be eligible for the income-based benefits. Given past research suggesting that registration processes may pose an access barrier to certain subpopulations, we aimed to determine whether registration rates varied across small geographic areas that differed in ethnic composition.
Using linked population-based administrative databases and census data, we conducted multivariate logistic regression analyses to determine whether the probability of registration for the public drug plan varied across areas of differing ethnic composition, controlling for household-level predisposing, enabling and needs factors.
The adjusted odds of registration did not differ across regions characterized by high concentrations (greater than 30%) of residents identifying as North American, British, French or other European. Households located in areas with concentrations of residents identifying as an Asian ethnicity had the highest odds of program registration: Chinese (OR = 1.21, CI: 1.19-1.23) and South Asian (OR = 1.19, CI: 1.16-1.22). Despite this positive finding, households residing in areas with relatively high concentrations of recent immigrants had slightly lower adjusted odds of registering for the program (OR = 0.97, CI: 0.95-0.98).
This study identified ethnic variation in registration for a new public drug benefit program in British Columbia. However, unlike previous studies, the variation observed did not indicate that areas with high concentrations of certain ethnicities experienced disadvantages. Potential explanations are discussed.
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Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Health Systems Research and Consulting Unit, 250 College St, Toronto, Ontario, and University of Toronto, Department of Psychiatry, Canada. firstname.lastname@example.org
The Canada Health Act provides a framework for the Canadian health system and a mechanism for federal healthcare funds to flow to the provinces. Presently, the Canada Health Act covers medically necessary hospital, physician and surgical-dental as well as limited long-term care services, but not prescription medication. Though not mandated, each province has chosen to also develop a prescription drug benefit plan. These plans differ with respect to the groups that are covered and the type of coverage provided. In this paper, we describe the key structural elements of the various provincial plans. In addition, using a population-based national health and mental healthcare survey of 33,000 Canadians, we explore the characteristics of the population currently not covered by prescription drug benefits. Finally, we look at a sub-population of Canadians with mental illness with regard to their insurance coverage and use of prescription drugs. Our findings suggest that drug coverage within provinces is working for individuals with chronic physical conditions only. The findings herein reaffirm the need for a national strategy, support the notion that prescription drug coverage is important, and raise questions about the role of employers in providing these benefits.
To develop and evaluate a program to provide emergency contraception (EC) directly in pharmacies that would recruit and train pharmacists and physician partners, and inform women about the availability of EC in pharmacies.
Pharmacists and physicians working in the Scarborough, Rexdale, and North York regions of Toronto were recruited to receive a training program on EC. The pharmacists in each pharmacy were linked with a designated physician who retrospectively authorized prescriptions provided under the protocol. Client eligibility for EC was determined using a self-administered questionnaire that was reviewed by the pharmacist. A poster and radio campaign advertised the service, and a telephone hotline informed users of their nearest participating pharmacy. Data on the client's age, reasons for requesting EC, time elapsed from intercourse until presentation, and requests for follow-up referral were analyzed using descriptive methodology. User satisfaction was determined through a mail-back questionnaire.
A total of 146 pharmacists practising in 40 pharmacies were linked with 34 physicians. In the 1 year of the project, 6931 prescriptions for EC were provided. Fifty-four percent of the women accessed EC within 24 hours of intercourse. The majority of women were very satisfied with the service, and 21.1% indicated that had they not obtained EC in this way, they would not have obtained it elsewhere. More information about birth control was desired by 10.2% of the women.
Direct pharmacist provision of EC is an effective pregnancy-prevention strategy that is well accepted by the women who access it.
To compare the results of a randomised and an observational evaluation of the same policy that restricted reimbursement for nebulised respiratory medications in adult patients in a community setting.
Cluster randomised controlled trial and observational time series with historical controls.
Pharmacare, the government funded drug benefits plan for elderly people and patients receiving social assistance in British Columbia, Canada.
In the randomised controlled trial 104 clusters of medical practices, pair matched by geography and approximately by practice size, were randomised to the intervention group (449 patients affected by the policy on 1 March 1999), and the control group (offered a six month exemption, affecting 386 patients). The observational analysis included all Pharmacare beneficiaries (excluding the 386 exempt patients) who had used any nebulised drugs six months before the policy (4624 patients).
Pharmacare restricted reimbursement for nebulised bronchodilators, steroids, and cromoglycate to patients whose doctors applied for an individual patient's exemption, giving an appropriate clinical reason.
Number of contacts with doctors and services, emergency admissions to hospital, and utilisation of and expenditure for respiratory drugs in databases of British Columbia's Ministry of Health.
Contacts with doctors or emergency admissions to hospital did not increase in association with the restriction, regardless of the analytical approach. In the observational analysis, we found a reduction of C24 dollars per patient month in all nebulised drug use (95% confidence interval 19 to 29) and an increase of C3 dollars per patient month in all expenditure for inhalers (1.4 to 4.5). The randomised evaluation found savings of C8 dollars per patient month for nebulisers (P = 0.24) and no increase in spending on inhalers (P = 0.79). Correcting for 60% non-compliance by exempt doctors in a sensitivity analysis yielded similar results as the observational evaluation.
Observational as well as randomised analyses found moderate net savings and no increase in unintended healthcare outcomes after restricting reimbursement for nebulised respiratory drugs. Randomised policy trials are feasible and, if carefully implemented, likely to be concordant with observational evaluations.
Medication misuse results in considerable problems for both patient and society. It is a complex problem with many contributing factors, including timely access to product information.
To investigate the value of 3-dimensional (3D) visualization paired with video conferencing as a tool for pharmaceutical advice over distance in terms of accessibility and ease of use for the advice seeker.
We created a Web-based communication service called AssistancePlus that allows an advisor to demonstrate the physical handling of a complex pharmaceutical product to an advice seeker with the aid of 3D visualization and audio/video conferencing. AssistancePlus was tested in 2 separate user studies performed in a usability lab, under realistic settings and emulating a real usage situation. In the first study, 10 pharmacy students were assisted by 2 advisors from the Swedish National Co-operation of Pharmacies' call centre on the use of an asthma inhaler. The student-advisor interview sessions were filmed on video to qualitatively explore their experience of giving and receiving advice with the aid of 3D visualization. In the second study, 3 advisors from the same call centre instructed 23 participants recruited from the general public on the use of 2 products: (1) an insulin injection pen, and (2) a growth hormone injection syringe. First, participants received advice on one product in an audio-recorded telephone call and for the other product in a video-recorded AssistancePlus session (product order balanced). In conjunction with the AssistancePlus session, participants answered a questionnaire regarding accessibility, perceived expressiveness, and general usefulness of 3D visualization for advice-giving over distance compared with the telephone and were given a short interview focusing on their experience of the 3D features.
In both studies, participants found the AssistancePlus service helpful in providing clear and exact instructions. In the second study, directly comparing AssistancePlus and the telephone, AssistancePlus was judged positively for ease of communication (P = .001), personal contact (P = .001), explanatory power (P
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Using 2002 Canadian Community Health Survey data, this paper examines the effect of public and private prescription drug insurance on the utilization of psychotropic and non-psychotropic drugs. It is found that prescription drug utilization is characterized by two stochastic regimes requiring use of latent class modelling framework. In many instances, results differ for the classes of high and low users of prescription drugs. After accounting for the unobserved individual heterogeneity and a number of socio-demographic factors, health status, and province fixed effects, we find that having prescription drug insurance (public or private) increases the expected number of non-psychotropic medications for both low and high users. Public insurance affects psychotropic drug utilization positively for the low-user group only. The statistical insignificance of insurance for the high-user psychotropic drugs or lower magnitude of insurance coefficients on high-user non-psychotropic drugs seems to stem from high inelastic demand for prescription drugs in the concerned groups. In addition, we find that age, self-reported health status, and long-term mental and physical health problem diagnosed by a health professional are important determinants of prescription drug utilization for both classes of users.
The purpose of this study was to describe the patterns of antidiabetic medication use and the cost of testing supplies in Canada using information collected by Saskatchewan's Drug Plan (DP) in 2001. The diabetes cohort (n = 41,630) included individuals who met the National Diabetes Surveillance System (NDSS) case definition. An algorithm was then used to identify subjects as having type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Among those identified as having type 2 diabetes (n = 37,625), 38% did not have records for antidiabetic medication in 2001. One-third of patients with type 2 diabetes received monotherapy. Metformin, alone or in combination with other medications, was the most commonly prescribed antidiabetic medication. Just over one-half of the all patients with diabetes had a DP records for diabetes testing supplies. For individuals (n = 4,005) with type 1 diabetes, 79% had a DP record for supplies, with an average annual cost of 472 +/- 560 dollars. For type 2 diabetes, 50% had records for testing supplies, with an average annual cost of 122 +/- 233 dollars. Those individuals with type 2 diabetes who used insulin had higher testing supply costs than those on oral antidiabetic medication alone (359 vs 131 dollars; p