Ottawa, June 23 (IANS) Canada spends over $312 million annually on drugs prescribed to seniors even though the medicine should be avoided for older patients, according to a study conducted by researchers at the University of British Columbia.
The study’s authors conclude that the full cost to Canada’s health-care system is closer to $1.56 billion when hospital visits and other repercussions of inappropriate prescriptions are factored in, Xinhua news agency reported.
“We are wasting vast sums of money on drugs that we know pose more risks than benefits for patients over 65 years of age,” said Steve Morgan, a professor from the university’s school of population and public health.
“Canada urgently needs a national strategy to ensure that older patients receive only those medications that are appropriate for their health and for their age,” he added.
The researchers found that 37 per cent of older Canadians filled one or more prescriptions on the list in 2013. Women were more likely than men to fill such prescriptions.
Sedatives were the leading contributors to both the frequency and cost of potentially inappropriate prescriptions among older Canadians.
Researchers advise that patients, families and health-care providers have more conversations about what sorts of medications an individual is taking and whether those medications are appropriate.
The researchers call for the creation of a national strategy on the appropriate use of medicines.
Other countries, such as Australia, have done so and found that investing in better prescribing behaviour and medication use improves patient health while significantly reducing prescription drug costs and costs elsewhere in the health-care system.
The study was published on Wednesday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.