14% of Canadians Have Lost or Damaged a Prescription — and This Comes at a Cost

By Bobby Gheorghiu

Prescriptions for medication are a regular part of the lives of most Canadians. A recent survey conducted by Nielsen and commissioned by Infoway found that 65 per cent of Canadians aged 18 and over have obtained a prescription in the past two years, with seniors filling over eight prescriptions on average just in the past year.

While those statistics are not likely to surprise, the fact that 14 per cent of Canadians have at some point lost or damaged a prescription may. Of particular significance is the finding that 17 per cent of those respondents (about 700,000 Canadians) decided to not fill those prescriptions as a result. And we know that non-adherence to medication can lead to adverse patient outcomes and increased health system costs.1


A related and equally significant statistic is that when patients do decide to obtain a replacement prescription, 80 per cent of them either call or visit the doctor’s office or clinic in person, which has negative implications in terms of cost and productivity for both patients and providers. In fact, we estimate lost and damaged prescriptions account for over $35 million in lost productivity, as well as travel and other associated costs for Canadians.2

PrescribeIT™, a national, not-for-profit e-prescribing service, could help mitigate these health risks and costs. PrescribeIT™ seamlessly integrates into a doctors’ electronic medical records, enabling them to electronically transmit prescriptions as data straight into a pharmacy’s management system. This means Canadians will no longer have to worry about lost or damaged prescriptions. Additional findings and supporting statistics can be found in the Connecting Patients for Better Health 2018 report, which summarizes Canadians access to, use of and interest in digital health services.

1 Adherence To Long-Term Therapies: Evidence For Action, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland, 2003. Accessed January 4, 2018.
2 Economic analysis based on [miDASH Consumer Health Solution Benefits Evaluation. Health Quality Innovation Collaboration (HQIC). 2016. 

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About the author
Bobby Gheorghiu

Bobby Gheorghiu

Bobby Gheorghiu works with stakeholders in academia, private and public sectors to develop and monitor performance targets for initiatives such as PrescribeIT®, Canada’s national e-prescribing service, to ensure widespread adoption of technology and to demonstrate tangible benefits of investments in digital health. He holds an MHSc in Health Policy, Management, and Evaluation from the University of Toronto.