By Kaisha Thompson, Contributing Columnist
There are always two sides to every story but when it comes to Ontario drug reform the only side we’re really hearing from is the drug company and pharmacist side.
There are radio attack ads, television ads, petitions and emails. You name it and they are running it.
Yet has anyone looked at the McGuinty government side? When analyzing the key facts of this debate it is pretty hard to fight against the reforms, especially when the true purpose of the reforms is to save tax payers money.
The Ontario Public Drug Program compared prices that Ontarians were paying for generic drugs compared to those in other countries and the results are shocking.
Ontario consumers pay 22.1 times more for Enalapril, a generic blood pressure drug, than consumers in New Zealand. How can pharmacists complain about ‘losing money’ when their clients are paying up to 22.1 times more than other drug consumers?
Perhaps it is also important to note that this money the pharmacists are losing is not their own. Generic drug manufacturers paid more than $750 million in professional allowances to Ontario pharmacies during the last year.
The drug reform put forward by the McGuinty government would eliminate these professional allowances and enable generic drugs to compete against their brand name counterparts.
These professional allowances that the pharmacies receive were to reserve shelf space for the generic drugs so they could compete. Now the government is doing that and instead of pharmacies pocketing that money it goes back to the tax payers.
Yes, the elimination of professional allowances will cost pharmacies money which then affect pharmacists. However, the money they will ‘lose’ is essentially kick back money.
Generic drug prices would be lowered which benefits consumers. The pharmacies should not allow this loss to affect their store hours or ability to serve their customers although obviously changes will have to be made.
When one relies on a particular income for many years one becomes accustomed to it but unfortunately this money belongs in the pockets of Ontarians.
This loss of income will affect how pharmacies do business. Many pharmacists have argued that they will not be able to consult one on one with their clients anymore. This is not true.
The Ontario government has invested $100 million to directly compensate pharmacists for the additional services, in addition to raising dispensing fees.
These drug reforms, which have resulted in $1 billion in savings, have been used to fund 150 new drug products including 39 cancer drugs.
Perhaps instead of throwing money at government attack ads pharmacies and drug companies should invest money in their own customers.
Ontarians need fair drug prices and the McGuinty drug reform proposes exactly that.
Kaisha Thompson is a Meaford resident. She studies Canadian Studies and Political Science at Carleton University in Ottawa. During the school year she works at Parliament Hill, in addition to her political involvement at home in Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound.