Research Project

Equity in Pharmacare

Equity in pharmacare: measuring access to and financing of prescription drugs within and across population subgroups


Equity in pharmacare is a critical health policy issue due to the fragmented nature of pharmaceutical insurance in Canada, the rising cost of prescription drugs, and the potential consequences of cost-related barriers to using necessary medicines.

Through a series of CIHR funded research projects, members of CHSPR's Program in Pharmaceutical Policy have been studying how drug coverage policies affect both access to medicines and the distribution of financial burdens. For example, program members compared income-based drug coverage effects with age-related drug benefits by evaluating BC's Fair PharmaCare policy. They also illustrated geographic and income-related disparities in prescription drug use and costs.

Currently, CHSPR's Program in Pharmaceutical Policy is studying disparities in prescription drug use across groups that differ by age, ethnicity, income, and sex. Building on previous work, this project examines how prescription drug use patterns across various therapeutic categories reflect either acceptable differences in patient choices, or display unacceptable inequities in access to and/or the delivery of care.


The project employs a variety of empirical research methods, and draws on Canada's largest population based dataset containing prescription drug records, medical and hospital services information, and a variety of household-specific and area-based measures. Equity in access and financing is measured using well-validated statistical methods as well as visual displays of regional variations, such as the BC Rx Atlas.

Project Team

  • Contact: Steve Morgan
  • Gillian Hanley
  • Hude Quan, University of Calgary


  • Canadian Institutes of Health Research