Lost, damaged prescriptions cost Canadians $35M in productivity, travel last year: study

Lost or damaged prescriptions cost Canadians more than $35 million in productivity, extra travel and time spent filling prescriptions and the potential for adverse health events due to medications that aren’t taken at all, according to a new study by Canada Health Infoway.

The study found 40 per cent of Canadians who lost or damaged prescriptions last year returned to their doctor for a replacement. Relating that percentage to the Canadian population, the study estimates 1.7 million Canadians opted to replace their prescriptions and 700,000 people opted to go without medication after losing their prescription.

“Lost or damaged prescriptions that never get filled are not only inconvenient, they can lead to adverse outcomes if a prescription isn’t filled,” said Michael Green, president and chief executive officer of Canada Health Infoway, in a news release.

Read: Sanofi survey finds 85% of plan members used drug plans last year

“By not filling a prescription, patients risk their overall health,” added Bill Coon, owner and pharmacist at Remedy’sRx Muskoka Medical Centre Pharmacy in Huntsville, Ont. “Unmanaged conditions can lead to a worsening of a patient’s condition and to more frequent emergency department visits and hospitalizations.”

Among damaged prescriptions, 874,000 were ripped or torn, 415,000 were put in the wash with clothes, 140,000 were dropped in puddles and 88,000 succumbed to the teeth of a curious dog.

Read: What is the plan sponsor’s role in mitigating the opioid crisis?

The study also found among respondents who received a prescription in the past two years, 38 per cent were prescribed an opioid. Overall, 12 per cent of survey respondents said they’ve been negatively affected by opioid use or have been close to someone who was negatively affected.

Looking at electronic consultations and virtual doctor visits, only six per cent of Canadians are currently able to visit their doctor virtually via video and 10 per cent are able to consult via secure email or other electronic methods. For survey respondents who said the option isn’t available, 41 per cent said they’d like to be able to use virtual visits and 63 per cent said they’d use electronic consultations.

Read: Majority of Canadians would take advantage of virtual doctor visits: survey