By the Numbers: The high cost of prescription drugs

 The high cost of prescription drugsToronto – February 22, 2018 – A new study details the struggles that many Canadians are faced with due to the high cost of prescription drugs, revealing that nearly one million Canadians spent less on necessities like food and heat to afford their prescriptions in 2016. This unconscionable situation highlights the need for a national pharmacare program to help ensure that Canadians can afford their prescription drugs.


The number of Canadians who gave up food purchases to pay for their prescriptions in 2016.


Over a quarter of a million Canadians spent less on heating their home to pay for their prescription drugs that same year.

1.6 million

Nearly 10% of patients who were prescribed medication in 2016 either did not fill those prescriptions, skipped doses, or otherwise did not take the prescribed medicine because they were unable to pay for it.


About one-third of working Canadians do not have employer-funded prescription drug coverage.

$11 Billion

Enacting a national universal pharmacare program would provide almost $11 billion a year in savings for federal and provincial governments, the private sector, and individual Canadians.


An overwhelming majority of Canadians – 91% – believe that our public health care system should include a universal prescription drug plan.

$31.8 Billion

The amount Canadians spent on prescription medication in 2016, with $7.3 billion coming out-of-pocket.

Sources:The consequences of patient charges for prescription drugs in Canada: a cross-sectional survey,” CMAJ Open, 2018. “Pharmacare: A Plan for Everyone,” Canadian Labour Congress, 2018. “Cost Savings Resulting from a National Pharmacare Program,” Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, 2017.