Providing medication for free leads to greater adherence and cost savings, according to the study

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Dr. Nav Persaud, a scientist at the Li Ka Shing Institute of Knowledge at St. Michael. Credit: Unity Health Toronto

Free access to essential medicines increases patient adherence to medication intake by 35 percent and reduces total health spending by an average of more than $ 1,000 per patient per year, according to a two-year study that went test the effects of providing patients with free and convenient access to a carefully selected set of medications.

The findings, published May 21 a PLOS medicine, as advocates urge Canada to chart a path to a single-payer public pharmacy. Canada is the only country with universal health care that does not have a universal health care program.

A group of researchers led by St. Michael’s of Health Unit Toronto recruited a total of 786 patients at nine Ontario primary care centers who reported cost-related non-adherence to medications. Most study participants were recruited from the Department of Family and Community Medicine in St. Louis. Michael and others were recruited from three rural locations. Participants were randomly divided into two groups: half received free medications by mail, the other half had regular access to medications.

Two years after the study, adherence to all appropriate prescribed medications was 35 percent higher in the free distribution group compared to the group that had regular access to medications. Free distribution of it also proved to reduce health care costs, including hospitalization, by an average of $ 1,222 per patient per year.

“Cost savings are substantial, but they are less important than people who can simply afford to take life-saving drugs,” said Dr. Nav Persaud, a scientist at the Li Ka Shing Institute of Knowledge in San Miquel and main author of the study.

“This is the first study to offer people free access to a full set of medicines and hopefully it will be the last one needed before changing the policy,” said Dr Persaud, who is also a doctor at family at St. Michael.

In June 2019, the National Pharmacare Implementation Advisory Council recommended a single-payment universal public pharmacy, estimating that such a program would save Canada about $ 5 billion annually. The report cites a list of drugs as used in the CLEAN Meds study as a “starting point” for determining which drugs all Canadians should have a.

The CLEAN Meds Trial focused on 128 essential medicines, adapted from the WHO model list of essential medicines and eliminating treatments that were not needed in Canada. The study’s medications included treatments for acute conditions, such as antibiotics and painkillers, as well as chronic conditions, such as antipsychotics and HIV-AIDS medications.

The document is the end result of the CLEAN Meds Trial. Preliminary trial results after one year of free medication indicated improved adherence, improvements in some health outcomes, and a free distribution of caused a 160 percent increase in the probability that participants could reach two meters.


Free distribution of essential medicines led to a 44% increase in adherence


More information:
PLOS medicine (2021). DOI: 10.6084 / m9.figshare.14428832

Citation: Providing drugs for free leads to greater membership and cost savings, according to the study (2021, May 21), retrieved May 21, 2021 at https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-05-medications -free-greater-adherence-cost -savings.html

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