B.C. Liberals, public differ on Pharmacare changes poll

News release

The B.C. public and Gordon Campbell's Liberals are at odds on how to control the costs of the provincial Pharmacare program, according to a Hospital Employees’ Union/McIntyre & Mustel poll released today.

Last week, health services minister Colin Hansen announced that he’s delisting 17 drugs from Pharmacare coverage. And his government is considering other measures to control Pharmacare costs including increasing user costs.

But British Columbians have indicated a clear preference for other measures to control Pharmacare costs according the results of a province-wide telephone survey carried out October 11-17.

Nearly 65 per cent of those surveyed supported the expanded use of generic drugs as a way to control costs while 57 per cent supported measures to control the over prescription of drugs.

Hansen’s approach of limiting the number of drugs covered by the plan found favour with only 18 per cent of respondents. Only 21 per cent felt that more of the costs of drugs should be transferred to users.

“This poll should send a message to Gordon Campbell and his government that they should engage in real consultation with the public about changes to Pharmacare and other health services,” says HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt.

Hansen wrote to a select list of pharmaceutical and health industry groups last month asking for input on changes to the Pharmacare program. The deadline for input was September 30.

HEU has written the minister and asked that the deadline for input on changes to Pharmacare be extended to March 31, 2002 and that the list of groups consulted be expanded.

The question was conducted as part of a broader McIntyre & Mustel omnibus telephone survey of 504 adult British Columbians. The results are considered accurate to within 4.4 per cent, 95 per cent of the time.

The question: The B.C. government says Pharmacare — the public drug plan — is too expensive. Which of the following measures do you support as ways to reduce the cost? Expand the use of less costly but equally effective generic drugs 64.5 % Control over-prescribing of drugs 56.9 % Transfer more of the drug costs to users 21.3 % Limit drug coverage, that is the number of drugs covered by Pharmacare 17.9 % Does not think Pharmacare is too expensive 1.9 % Don’t know/refused 6.0 %