The vast majority (87 per cent) of physicians said the knowledge that a patient has private drug coverage affects their prescribing behaviour, according to a survey by Merck Canada Inc.

More specifically, the survey found 26 per cent of general practitioners and 28 per cent of specialists believe this knowledge widens the treatment options available to the patient. Other effects cited by survey respondents included access to better or more effective drugs, access to new drugs and the ability to prescribe drugs that aren’t publicly covered or aren’t on a formulary. In addition, 13 per cent of respondents said cost is less of a factor when considering treatment options when they know a patient has private drug coverage.

Read: What’s the role of doctors in boosting drug plan sustainability? 

In terms of the awareness of drug costs, the survey found four per cent of physicians are aware of all costs for the medications they prescribe, while 35 per cent are aware of most costs and 45 per cent are aware of some costs.

When choosing between drugs with a significant difference in price, 23 per cent of physicians said it was very impactful and 48 per cent said it was somewhat impactful. Almost half of survey respondents said they’d prescribe the less expensive drug, while 10 per cent of general practitioners and 12 per cent of specialists said they’d choose the more expensive drug if it was better. Nine per cent of physicians said they choose the most appropriate treatment regardless of the cost.

“At Merck Canada, we have a strong sense of duty to help build a sustainable, healthy outlook for Canadians and our health-care system,” said Laureen Rance, director of private drug plans access strategy at Merck Canada, in an email to Benefits Canada. “As part of the health-care ecosystem, we want to be a trusted partner that adds value for patients, health-care providers and payers, and to help provide access to innovative medicines and credible information, with the goal of helping Canadians live long and healthy lives.

“It is in line with that objective that this report can contribute to inform all stakeholders of that ecosystem.”

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

Copyright © 2020 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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