Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy owners worried about their future

Independent pharmacies deeply concerned about reimbursement upheaval in Ontario Drug Reform Plan

EDMONTON, April 9 /CNW/ - Independent pharmacy owners operating under the Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy Franchise Banner in Ontario are expressing serious concerns about the McGuinty Liberal Government's announcement on Thursday regarding the province's drug reform proposals.

Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy owners in Ontario are strongly opposed to the drug program changes announced yesterday by Ontario's Minister of Health and Long-term Care, Deb Matthews. The proposed changes may impact the ability of Medicine Shoppe pharmacist-owners - and community pharmacy in general - from continuing to provide a high-level of pharmacy services and patient care in a sustainable fashion.

"It is easy for the government to say 'pharmacies must change their business model', but no business can operate for long when their costs exceed their revenues," said Winston Clarke, Pharmacist-Owner of The Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy in Sarnia, Ontario. "And costs exceeding revenues is exactly the situation independent pharmacists like myself will be in if these radical changes proposed by the McGuinty Liberal Government go forward."

Yesterday's announcement indicated the province's plans to reduce generic prescription drug prices for patients under the Ontario Drug Benefit Program (ODB). In addition, prices for generic drugs in the private sector will also be reduced to 25% of brand by 2012. The province also plans to eliminate the current pharmacy reimbursement model of professional allowances paid by generic drug manufacturers to pharmacies.

"Small, independent pharmacies such as ourselves are known for the personal care and attention we provide our patients," said Laura Furdas, Pharmacist-Owner of the Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy in Scarborough, Ontario, who co-owns her pharmacy with Technician Jean Schuller. "Our concern is that these proposed changes will have unintended negative impacts on the health of our patients and on the overall level of care and education we provide to the community on a daily basis."

In independent pharmacies across the province, professional allowances are used to fund patient services such as pharmacist intervention with physicians, educational clinics, screening events, compliance packaging, prescription delivery, investments in continuing education and training, disease management, medication reviews and counseling services, the cost of which regular dispensing fees don't cover.

"Pharmacists play a key front-line role in the health care continuum within their communities," said Ross McKay, COO, Medicine Shoppe Canada Inc. "Medicine Shoppe pharmacist-owners have invested their lives into building enterprises that serve their neighborhoods and communities. In one fell swoop, it would appear the provincial Government of Ontario has put the entire sustainability of independent, community pharmacy in jeopardy."

About Medicine Shoppe Canada Inc.

Medicine Shoppe Canada Inc. (www.medicineshoppe.ca), a Katz Group Canada Company, is distinguished for its commitment to providing expert, personal health care. With more than 150 franchised units in Canada, The Medicine Shoppe is an industry leader in patient-focused professional pharmacy practice. Medicine Shoppe Canada is part of an international group of 1,000 Medicine Shoppe Pharmacies worldwide, making the Medicine Shoppe the largest franchised professional pharmacy system in the world and one of the top franchises in the health care industry.

SOURCE MEDICINE SHOPPE CANADA INC.

For further information: For further information: Media Contact: Michael Bobroff, VP, Marketing and Communications, mbobroff@medicineshoppe.ca, (780) 424-3096 ext. 2740

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MEDICINE SHOPPE CANADA INC.

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