Health Team

Study looks at drug coverage in public health systems

Posted October 6, 2009 5:30 p.m. EDT
Updated October 6, 2009 7:38 p.m. EDT

Prescription-drug costs are a major issue facing all developed nations, including the United States.

Some agencies have been established to make drug coverage decisions in Canada, Britain and Australia, which all have public health systems. They were part of a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Britain recommended over 87 percent of drugs be listed on their public plan, while Australia and Canada recommended only about 50 percent.

The variation might be due to the different drugs available in each country, as well as different decision making criteria.

“(In) each of these countries, while they've learned from each other, there are aspects to their own process and their committees and their own decision making that are very unique,” said study author Dr. Fiona Clement, of the University of Calgary.

While all three agencies consider clinical concerns and cost effectiveness in their decisions, researchers saw other relevant factors as well.

“There were situations where they made the decision to fund a medication, it might have been expensive and perhaps it did not offer the best value for money, but it really treated a niche type of patient who we didn't have current treatment for,” said study author Dr. Braden Manns, of the University of Calgary.