Canadian Pharmacists Association
Canadian Pharmacists Association

Failure to Take Meds Leads to Worsening Health Outcomes and Increased Costs to Health Care

Expanded pharmacist health advice and services could improve medication use and adherence

July 17, 2015 (Ottawa): Canadians are not taking their medications as prescribed and, in some instances, not even filling their prescriptions, according to national survey results released by the Canadian Pharmacists Association (CPhA).  This disturbing trend spells bad news for Canada’s cash-strapped health care system due to repeat visits to clinics and emergency rooms, recurring illnesses and worsening medical conditions.

According to the Abacus Data survey conducted earlier this year, 30% of Canadians reported they stopped taking medication before they were advised to and about one in four reported not filling a prescription they were given or they took less medication than prescribed.

Of those Canadians who didn’t fill their prescriptions, 20% said it was because their drug plan didn’t cover all the costs; while 12% said it was because they didn’t have insurance and couldn’t afford the prescription.

Of those Canadians who did not take their medication as directed or stopped taking their medication, 45% said they felt they no longer needed to take it; 18% said it made them sick or they didn’t think it was working well; while 8% said they couldn’t afford to keep taking it.

“Canadians face a multitude of barriers when it comes to effective medication use,” said Carlo Berardi, Chair, Canadian Pharmacists Association. “While being able to afford their medications is first and foremost a fundamental necessity, we also need to ensure that Canadians are supported with the health advice and services pharmacists can provide to improve medication use and adherence.”

On July 16, CPhA released data from a national survey on Canadian attitudes on pharmacare illustrating broad support for a pan-Canadian pharmacare program that also covers pharmacy services.

Part of CPhA’s Pharmacare 2.0 Initiative, the national data confirms that Canadians recognize the important role of the professional services and health advice provided by pharmacists to dispense, monitor and counsel patients on effective drug use.

Evidence shows that when pharmacists are involved in chronic disease management, like diabetes, hypertension and heart disease, health outcomes are improved.

“We need to ensure that patients and improved health outcomes are put front and centre in this national discussion,” said Perry Eisenschmid, CEO, Canadian Pharmacists Association. “Not only is there a clear need for a pharmacare policy to address the gaps between private and public systems to ensure no Canadian is left without adequate coverage, we also need to provide the solutions for the medication adherence issues costing our health care system.”

Each year, Canada’s 39,000 pharmacists fill more than 600 million prescriptions. They are ideally positioned to encourage optimal medication use, improve the management of chronic diseases, increase health promotion efforts and contribute substantially to reducing health care costs.

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About the Canadian Pharmacists Association

The Canadian Pharmacists Association (CPhA) is the uniting national voice of pharmacy and the pharmacist profession in Canada. As pharmacists undertake an enhanced role in the delivery of health care services, CPhA ensures that the profession is recognized as a national leader in health care, influencing the policies, programs, budgets and initiatives affecting the profession and the health of Canadians. More information is available at

For more information, please contact:

Mark McCondach
Director of Communications
Canadian Pharmacists Association
(613) 523-7877 Ext. 285

For information on survey results, please contact:

David Coletto
CEO, Abacus Data