Craig Walters is concerned if the provincial government implements a new generic drug policy, his business might have to close its doors.
Craig Walters, pharmacist and owner of Valley Pharmacy in the Codroy Valley, holds a petition to save independent pharmacies. Small, independent pharmacies are concerned their businesses won’t be viable if the provincial government implements a new generic drug policy. Submitted photo
As owner of Valley Pharmacy a small, independent pharmacy in the Codroy Valley, he’s not alone.
The government of Newfoundland and Labrador is looking at implementing a new generic drug pricing policy. Small, independent pharmacies are concerned such a policy might put them out of business.
Mr. Walters said the Council of Independent Community Pharmacy Owners (CICPO) wants pharmacies to stay viable.
According to a Department of Health and Community Services press release, the generic drug-pricing model the government is considering would “ensure the people of Newfoundland and Labrador get the best price possible for prescriptions.”
When a brand comes off patent, pharmacies can get a number of generic brands of the same drug for 75 per cent of the brand price or less.
Pharmacists get professional allowances (rebates) from manufacturers for stocking a particular generic brand.
“Under generic drug pricing models we have studied in other provinces in Canada, these professional allowances have been either significantly reduced by generic drug manufacturers or, in the case of Ontario, outlawed,” said Health Minister Jerome Kennedy in a press release.
Minister Kennedy said the government recognizes for smaller independent organizations to stay viable, they will need other sources of revenue to replace the rebates. He said the government is exploring several options, including increasing dispensing fees.
“We depend on these rebates for our day-to-day operations, and without them, a lot of us are going to find it hard,” said Mr. Walters.
He said CICPO isn’t looking for increases. Rather, it wants to work with the government to form a business model that will work for all independent pharmacies and save the government money.
The Council of Independent Community Pharmacy Owners wants to negotiate directly with the government on the policy, but Minister Kennedy has said he will only negotiate with the Pharmacists Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (PANL). By law, all pharmacists must be members of the association.
The Pharmacists Association of Newfoundland and Labrador represents pharmacists and the pharmacy profession, said Sue Kelland-Dyer, the executive director of CICPO.
“It’s absolutely impossible to have an employee organization (PANL) that’s there for the advocacy of the profession, step in and play a role in negotiating for a business that they have no involvement in,” she said.
Six hundred and sixty pharmacists are registered under PANL, and 75 of those pharmacists are owners, said Mrs. Kelland-Dyer. According to the province, CICPO has a seat at the negotiating table but refuses to fill it.
Mr. Walters said if the government implements a new policy, Valley Pharmacy will have trouble keeping its doors open.
“(The revenue) is used to pay our staff, it’s used to pay our bills (and) it’s used to bring in the inventory.”
He said the revenue has to be replaced somehow.
“We either have to increase our prices to the customer or we shut our doors,” he said.
In an email response to The Gulf News, the province said, “no patient will pay more for their prescription medications as a result of the introduction of a new generic drug pricing policy in Newfoundland and Labrador.”
- With files from The Telegram