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Tuesday 16 August 2011

Pharmacies, Pharmacists and Ministers of the Crown

Wow, is anyone else tired of hearing about the dispute between the independent pharmacy owners and the NL Government? Don't get me wrong, they have every right to fight it out in public, but I'm getting tired of hearing two sides say completely different things about the same issue. So here in a nutshell is my 2 minute version of what's happening and why it needs to be resolved before I go hoarse from yelling at my radio.

The Players
To lay the ground work we need to know who is involved, at least from a collective perspective. We have the Gov. of NL usually represented by the Minister of Municipal Affairs (you heard me), but sometimes represented by others, vary rarely ever by the Minister of Health himself.

We have the Pharmacists Association of Newfoundland and Labrador, or PANL as they are usually called. This is a professional organization of pharmacists in NL, and all pharmacists are members. According to their website: "The Pharmacists' Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (PANL) is a non-profit corporation established under the Corporations Act on November 5, 2003, with a mandate to serve as the professional association representing pharmacists in Newfoundland and Labrador and promote the profession of pharmacy in the Province."

Then we have the Council of Independent Pharmacy Owners, or CICPO. They are a collection of the majority of non-chain pharmacy owners in NL and they have a website over here.

The Game
The Gov of NL says that they can save between 18 and 45 million dollars(wow thats a big gap) by changing how generic and brand name drugs are administered in NL. They are about to enter into negotiations with PANL on ways to cut back on reimbursements to pharmacies paid by the brand name drug manufacturers, thereby encouraging the use of more generics, and thereby saving the Gov some cash by paying out less money on its drug program.

The folks over at CICPO are crying foul for two reasons. The first reason is because they use those reimbursements to cover operating costs, and that money is necessary to remain in operation in many cases. And two, because the folks in the GOV, namely Minister of Health Kennedy, refuses to meet with them.

GOV says that CICPO is just a rogue splinter group of PANL and they refuse to even acknowledge them. They will only speak with PANL. CICPO says that they have very different needs then the members of PANL and that they need their own organization.

PANL has said very little.

The Rules
So we have a group of business owners, some of whom are pharmacists, but many of whom are not, are upset because the GOV sets all the regulations for their industry but yet refuses to meet with them. GOV makes all the rules here and they say they can pretty much ignore CICPO as long as they want.

Minister O'Brien went so far as to suggest that the members of CICPO who are pharmacists could literally take over all the board seats on PANL and then they could represent the interests of the independent pharmacy owners as well. So to be clear, the Minister is suggesting that a group of business owners overthrow a professional organization so that they can subvert it's purpose for their own benefit. Yeah...that sounds like a great solution... Perhaps he should stick to Municipal Affairs.

The Winners and Losers
So who wins? No matter what the outcome no one wins this thing. Unfortunately that means we all loose. How badly we lose depends entirely up to the GOV because they make the rules.

Look at it this way. If you owned a garage and had the best mechanic in the world working for you, would you want him, or his professional association negotiating the price you could charge for an oil change with GOV? Of course not. He may be an excellent mechanic, but he is your employee and has his own priorities that may not always coincide with yours.

The Minister of Health should be ashamed to say he refuses to meet with CICPO. Whatever the specifics of the dispute he should at least meet with them. They could be an association of any kind of health related professionals and it is his job and his obligation to meet with them. He does not get to hold the healthcare system ransom! Oh wait, GOV makes the rules, so I guess he does. But he damn well shouldn't.

1 comment:

  1. I don't buy medicines from just any pharmacy, I do read some ph online pharmacy reviews before I buy from an online pharmacy. It's best to know more about the company before trusting their products.