Inside This Issue - News
Pharmacists in Ontario face cuts
May 21st, 2012
TORONTO – The Ontario government is consulting with pharmacy industry stakeholders on achieving $55 million (Canadian) in savings in drug spending, according to the Canadian Association of Chain Drug Stores (CACDS).
While the government initially announced a flat payment reduction from 25% to 20% of brand name equivalents for the top 10 generic drugs, subsequent consultations are ongoing as to how best to deliver the government savings target, says CACDS director of communications Sara Feldman.
The Ontario Pharmacists’ Association (OPA) has denounced an across-the-board price cut, saying the province already has the lowest generic prices in the country.
At the same time, Ontario pharmacists are not allowed to provide the same services as their counterparts in most other provinces, as well as the United Kingdom and the United States. Expanding the services that pharmacists provide to patients could yield over $130 million in health system savings per year while dramatically improving health care accessibility for many Ontarians, OPA says.
“This is a very surprising and shortsighted proposal,” says association chair Darryl Moore. “The government passed legislation in 2009 that would increase the scope of services pharmacists could provide — health care that would improve patient outcomes, reduce hospital emergency room admissions and take some pressure off overloaded physicians offices — and yet has not implemented that legislation.”
“Enabling pharmacists to use their skills to deliver more health care services to Ontarians and achieve the long-term objectives of a more efficient system could save much more than the proposed $55 million from generic drug price cuts and would avoid the significant strain such cuts place on drug supply and pharmacy operations,” Moore adds.
Since 2010 the government has obtained almost $500 million in savings from the pharmacy sector, which continues to struggle with reimbursement, according to OPA.
There is broad support in the public and among health care experts for the introduction of new services by pharmacists, OPA notes. Increased utilization of pharmacists as primary care providers already exists in many other provinces, it adds.