“The Chamber” Weighs in on Ontario’s Prescription Drug War

It seems odd to me that nearly every move that government makes these days hurts the small business. Shoppers and a few other large dispensing retailers are fighting this battle when it only represents about 18% of prescriptions filled, while the little guy (independent pharmacy) has it hit 42% of prescriptions. Kudos to Shoppers for leading the charge, “we think”, because there are certainly advantages for us out here, the patrons/consumers. That being said, we think something is a bit smelly here. So Mr. Premier, you are saying that drug companies can’t pay this $750 million (professional allowances) to pharmacies as, (if I get it right), an incentive payment of sorts for dispensing their product. And that the drug companies then would apply that savings to reduce the costs of prescription drugs, and that savings to be passed on to the consumer, ME. Nice, very nice actually, insurance rates should dip (he says laughingly, with wonder and a “ya right” look on his face). It all sounds awesome, but Mr. Premier, why does the negative effect of legislation always have to trickle down to the individual contributing to the local economy here on the streets of Ontario? Yes, we want the reduced costs of prescription drugs, yes we want our insurance premiums to reduce, but I want my neighbour and other Ontarian’s neighbours (pharmacists and their employees) to still be active in building our local economy. What is the matter with the multi-billion dollar drug industry cutting its costs under legislation and still allowing the pharmacies the ability to negotiate their own deals for professional allowances, which rightly or wrongly has become part of the Canadian institution of drug dispensing. In stead, in order for you to flex your political muscle and keep the drug companies loving you, the small entrepreneur gets slapped in the face again. Mr. Premier, you know that these drug companies are making billions, and frankly good for them, but you’re trying to fix the issue with duck tape and not the original part. This is a healthcare issue, not a retail distribution issue, you’re causing a problem while trying to fix one. It now takes me 1 hour to get my prescription filled every couple of months, it will now take me a day or more, (hopefully a day without medication is ok for me), is that greater access or better service in your mind? No, it’s a continued degradation of an already rationed healthcare system. Small business Sir, is the heart of our economy, governments challenge it every single day and with every single piece of legislation like this. Part of the core business plan for these small local businesses was the professional allowances provided by the drug manufacturers,  in one sweeping piece of legislation, you have changed what would be the outcome of their financial plan, nothing they did, nothing the supporting customers have done, something totally out of their own hands will deplete their resources and force them out of business. We strongly support the governments actions to make prescription medicines more affordable and less burdensome on the Ontario taxpayer, we strongly oppose you doing it on the backs of over 1500 small, important and community minded small businesses in Ontario. If you’re trying to repair the healthcare system,  and it’s efficiencies, might we be so bold as to recommend not using duck tape.

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