Not only are pharmacists an important link in our health system, they are also entrepreneurs who create jobs and invest in their communities. We take great interest in monitoring issues that concern the practice of professional pharmacy.
Debate over pharmacists’ fees
In 2014, as part of its goal to balance the budget, the Quebec government tried to effect changes in the fees charged by pharmacists – changes that had the potential to adversely impact the viability of a number of small independent pharmacies.
As soon as we were informed of this situation, we sprang into action by:
- sending a letter to the Minister of Health (in French only) requesting a careful assessment of the proposals made by the Association québécoise des pharmaciens propriétaires (AQPP) [Quebec association of owner pharmacists] (in French only);
- calling attention to this matter in our parliamentary committee submission (in French only); and
- putting out a press release (in French only) to move this issue back to the front burner.
In our view, preventing a negative impact on pharmacies’ business viability is essential
The Minister and pharmacists reached an agreement in June 2015. Based on our understanding and according to media coverage, the provisions of the agreement included removing the ceiling on professional allowance payments made to pharmacists by generic drug companies over a three-year period, in consideration of a $400 million payment to the government by pharmacists out of their current fees.
However, the Regulation amending the Regulation respecting benefits authorized for pharmacists published on April 13, 2016 seems to be going in a different direction. It might result in losses for pharmacists estimated at tens of millions of dollars – not to mention the risk to patients due to reduced service.
Once again, we reacted swiftly and sent another letter to the Minister of Health (in French only) asking him to make some adjustments. We will continue to monitor this file closely.