Vancouver – January 18, 2024 – The Gastrointestinal Society, a member of the MedAccessBC Coalition, unveiled a groundbreaking analysis shedding light on the concerning inequity in British Columbia’s public drug plan. The findings underscore that BC not only allocates the least per capita but also provides coverage for fewer prescription medicines compared with all other provinces in Canada.

Representing the interests of more than two million British Columbians, the coalition is emphatically urging the provincial government to bolster BC’s drug plan budget, ensuring inclusive and equitable coverage of essential medicines.

While provinces nationwide have given the green light to cover numerous medications in their public drug plans, BC stands apart by denying coverage for crucial treatments. This denial has far-reaching consequences for patients grappling with conditions such as acne, bone fractures (osteoporosis), migraines, multiple sclerosis, schizophrenia, short bowel syndrome, skin diseases, and more. Those affected are left with limited alternatives, unless equipped with private drug insurance, the financial means for out-of-pocket expenses, or the ability to relocate to another province.

See Video ( and Report (

In a pioneering report amalgamating publicly available data, the Gastrointestinal Society, and other MedAccessBC members, expose BC’s lowest per capita medication spending in the country. In 2022, the province allocated a mere $257 per person for prescription medicines, significantly lagging behind the Canadian average of $442. This stagnant spending trend since 2010 contrasts starkly with increased budgets in other healthcare sectors, including hospitals, physicians, and regional services.

Between 2018 and 2023, BC rejected coverage for 31 critical medications approved by most provinces. In comparison, Ontario and Alberta only declined coverage for a couple of these medicines during the same period. The fallout from this selective coverage extends beyond immediate budgetary gains, with patients unable to access necessary medications, placing an increasing strain on an already overburdened healthcare system, resulting in elevated symptoms, disease progression, and hospitalizations.

Gail Attara, President and CEO of the Gastrointestinal Society, emphasized the direct link between adequate medication access and reduced healthcare utilization, stating, “When patients receive the right medications, they require fewer physician visits and experience improved overall well-being. The time for addressing the longstanding issue of inequitable access to care in BC is long overdue, particularly given the rising cost of living and an aging population.”

Dr. Alan Low, Executive Director of MedAccessBC said “As a coalition representing more than 30 health organizations in the province, we have heard countless stories about patients and their families struggling to pay for their prescriptions which are not covered. Doctors and pharmacists have also raised their concerns about the inequity of public coverage for medicines in BC compared with other provinces in Canada. Discrepancies continue, limiting the options that practitioners can prescribe for patients.”

Patient organizations, physicians, pharmacists, and allied health professionals are united in their call on the BC government to rectify these disparities, ensuring that medication coverage aligns with standards observed in other Canadian jurisdictions. For detailed information, including the report and a concise video, please visit


About the Gastrointestinal Society

As the Canadian leader in providing trusted, evidence-based information on all areas of the gastrointestinal tract, the Gastrointestinal Society is committed to improving the lives of people with digestive, obesity, and liver conditions, supporting research, advocating for appropriate patient access to healthcare, and promoting health.

About Medicine Access Coalition – BC (MedAccessBC)

MedAccessBC unites more than 30 health patient organizations across BC and Canada to drive awareness and education to achieve fair, equitable and timely access to medicines for the people of BC.


To schedule an interview or for further information, please contact:

Gail Attara, President and Chief Executive Officer

Gastrointestinal Society

Phone: 604-873-4876 or toll-free 1-866-600-4875


Alan Low, BSc (Pharm), Pharm D, RPh, ACPR, FCSHP, CCD

Executive Director

Medicines Access Coalition – BC (MedAccessBC)