CMA e-Panel Survey Reveals Drug Cost Transparency Remains Hazy Among Canadian Doctors

In the continuing efforts of Dr. Gorfinkel's campaign to mandate drug cost transparency and better Pharmacare for Canadians, some headway has been made with recent research.

Owen Adams, the Chief Policy Advisor at the Canadian Medical Association, recently forwarded the results of a survey of 3, 276 e-Panel members. This document provides a current overview of the doctors' awareness of costs of prescription medications. This data has been analyzed, summarized and made public on the CMA's website on November 13, 2018.

The findings serve as validation to the ongoing lack of knowledge by physicians of drug costs. Here are a few of the highlights:

  • 71% of responding doctors learn of drug costs from patients themselves, rather than being provided with drug costs in order to educate patients to discuss costs prior to prescribing.

  • Only 4% of respondents learn of drug costs from the electronic medical record. [Embedding the Ontario Drug Benefit prices into the EMR would allow drug prices to pop up automatically at the point of prescribing and save huge costs.]

  • Medical journals do not teach drug costs.

  • Databases external to the EMR used to access drug costs are utilized by a small minority of physicians.

  • Price heavily influences what is prescribed by physicians, especially when the patient's affordability is in question. [If physicians were made to feel in part responsible for system sustainability, this aspect could be heavily capitalized.]

Attached is link to the complete e-Panel survey results, which is also available on the CMA website.

We continually lament the high cost of drugs despite physicians remaining disempowered to prescribe in a cost effective manner. This ongoing push is very much consistent with increasing cost effectiveness and ending "hallway medicine".