A B.C. MP says that Canadians are being 'gouged' over high prescription costs because there is no national pharmacare plan in place.

NDP health critic and MP for Vancouver Kingsway, Don Davies, said that in response to what he termed a "crisis", he has launched a parliamentary study into creating a national prescription drugs plan.

"Canada is the only country in the world with a universal health care system that doesn't have a universal pharmaceutical plan," said Davies.

"As a result, Canadians are being gouged at the pharmacy for prescription medications that cost a fraction of the price in countries such as the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Sweden, who have national drug plans."

According to Davies, the high cost of prescription drugs in Canada means one in four households are unable to afford the medications they need.

He quoted the cost of asthma inhaler Fluticasone as averaging $45 in Canada, but under $15 in New Zealand.

New Zealand buys prescriptions for their universal healthcare plan on behalf of the entire population.

Davies was joined by Dr. Steve Morgan, an expert in pharmaceutical policy, who said that the "patchwork" plan currently in place in Canada, undermines the country's purchasing power on the global market.

"A single-payer system for necessary prescription drugs would improve patient health while saving Canadian patients, businesses, and governments billions of dollars every year," Morgan said.