PEI

P.E.I.'s generic drug program proves popular

More than 10,000 Islanders have registered for P.E.I.'s generic drug program, Health and Wellness Minister Robert Henderson said Friday.

'Programs like this are especially helpful in rural areas where many people are self-employed'

Alicia Gallant signs up for P.E.I.'s generic drug program as Health Minister Robert Henderson and pharmacist Cathy McHugh look on. (Province of P.E.I. )

More than 10,000 Islanders have registered for P.E.I.'s generic drug program, Health and Wellness Minister Robert Henderson said at a media event Friday at a pharmacy in O'Leary to mark the milestone.   

Through the plan, introduced last October, Islanders under 65 who do not have private drug coverage pay a maximum of $20 for a generic drug prescription. 

"Making access to prescription drugs more affordable remains a top government priority," Henderson said. 

Government also encouraged Islanders to register for the program if they haven't already.

"We anticipate there's probably a third of Islanders that don't have a family drug program in their households, and if you don't have a family drug program you may not be getting the medications at a cost-effective perspective and that may create less than ideal health outcomes," Henderson said.

The program is especially helpful in rural areas where many are self-employed or work seasonally, and are less likely to have a drug plan through their employer, said Cathy McHugh, pharmacist at the Medicine Shoppe in O'Leary.

The province expects its generic drug program will save the health care system money in the long run. (Mark Blinch/Reuters)

"Many of our customers are now using the program and they are telling us they appreciate the assistance, especially those who are on several medications and may try to make their prescriptions stretch in order to save money," said McHugh.

P.E.I. is only province in Canada that offers such a program.

It means lower cost to the health system as a result of reduced ER use, doctor visits and hospital admissions, said Henderson.

Islanders can apply for the coverage online or in person at Access PEI locations, pharmacies, physician offices or pharmacare offices. 

With files from Angela Walker

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