B.C. families now pay less at the pharmacy

BC PharmaCare helps British Columbians with the cost of eligible prescription drugs and designated medical supplies

Ministry of Health

British Columbians are now paying less for many of the generic prescription drugs they need for their health.

Starting April 1, a new drug pricing regulation came into effect that reduces the price of generic drugs to 25 per cent of the brand name price, from the rate of 35 per cent previously charged for the brand name price. The price will further drop to 20 per cent in April 2014.

The drug price regulation is the first in a suite of regulations required to fully implement the Pharmaceutical Services Act, which came into force in May 2012. The act shifts B.C.’s PharmaCare program from relying on government policy, to being protected by legislation.

The regulation allows the Minister of Health to regulate the price of prescription drugs. Generic drugs have the same quality, strength, purity and stability as their brand name equivalents and are made to the same strict standards.

“As retirees and members of the Municipal Pension Retirees Association, we believe that seniors jeopardize their health to pay for costly drugs,” said Steven Polak, president of the Municipal Pension Retirees Association. “The new drug legislation introduced by the government has changed this. Now we, the MPRA, believe that seniors can have the drugs needed at a cost seniors can afford.”

BC PharmaCare helps British Columbians with the cost of eligible prescription drugs and designated medical supplies. As one of the most comprehensive drug programs in Canada, it provides reasonable access to drug therapy for every British Columbian through several drug plans.

Examples of savings as a result of the drug price regulation:

* The current cost, not including standard pharmacy fees, of a 30-day prescription of the cholesterol-lowering drug Crestor is $44. The price of the generic version of this drug today is 35 per cent of the brand name price, or about $15.40.

* On April 1, the price of the generic drug was reduced to 25 per cent of the brand name price, or $11. On April 1, 2014, the price of the generic drug will be further reduced to 20 per cent, or $8.80.

* The anti-platelet drug Plavix currently costs $85.20 for a typical 30-day prescription, not including standard pharmacy fees. Currently, the generic version costs 35 per cent of that amount, or about $29.20.

* On April 1, the price of the generic version dropped to 25 per cent of the brand name, $21.30. A year later, the price of the generic drug will be reduced to about $17.

An infographic showing the price change is available at: www.sendtonews.com?SK=4oZUtj4SHX

For more information on BC PharmaCare, click: www.health.gov.bc.ca/pharmacare/