Ontario's Community Pharmacies to Minister: Patient Services and Care Still
at Risk

Pharmacists react to new regulations and vow to fight for patient care

TORONTO, June 8 /CNW/ - Ontario's Community Pharmacies Coalition are extremely disappointed by yesterday's announcement by Health Minister Deb Matthews and the posting of amendments to regulations under the OBDA and DIDFA as it all but assures that Ontario patients will be less able to freely access the front-line community healthcare they have come to rely on. While pharmacists continue to support the need to lower generic drug prices and eliminate professional allowances, it is regrettable that the Minister chose not to work with pharmacists to find a solution that would preserve front-line healthcare. Pharmacists are disappointed by the complete lack of transparency in the consultation process, the failure to understand the profound risks to front-line community healthcare and the continued unwillingness by the Minister to meet with all key pharmacy stakeholders.

"Sadly, pharmacists will now be forced to make very difficult choices, as they evaluate the level of care they provide to all patients, especially seniors and the chronically ill," said Rita Winn, RPH, BSCPhm, general manager, Lovell Drugs. "We deeply regret having to make choices that impact these patients and will resist having to do so. Unfortunately we have little choice."

The government's decision to expand the MedsCheck program and establish a transition fund for pharmacies are sound concepts but the funding level is woefully inadequate to help offset the impact to front-line healthcare of the massive $750 million healthcare cut. The cuts mean that patients will have less access to front-line healthcare and the final regulations indicate that the government really wasn't interested in consultation with pharmacists and their patients to consider alternative solutions to deliver on their policy objectives.

Ms. Winn observed that, "The extended consultation period set out by the government resulted in very little consultation with all pharmacy stakeholders. In fact, one has to question the legitimacy of the entire process and why the guidance and expertise of those who lead the industry was outright ignored?"

Pharmacists maintain that the McGuinty government has, since April 7, waged a calculated campaign to continuously malign and vilify pharmacists with dishonest and misleading portrayals of the facts regarding professional allowances and their legitimate, regulated use in funding the patient care that pharmacists provide. "This is offensive to all pharmacists and a betrayal of the trust of Ontario voters," says Winn.

Over time, patients will experience reductions in clinic services, evening and weekend pharmacy hours and direct access to pharmacists will be limited as a result of the cuts. Pharmacists deeply regret and resist having to make these kinds of cuts.

"Pharmacists refuse to accept such poor outcome for patients and will continue to advocate for continued patient care. Less healthcare for the people of Ontario is unacceptable." said Winn.

Pharmacists are particularly concerned about the post-regulatory implementation period, which has historically been accompanied by a host of transition-related questions and unexpected practical and operational consequences that need to be resolved. The Coalition believes the new regulations under the ODBA and DIDFA, being numerous in scope, quantity and magnitude, will result in significant transition challenges.

The Minister has a real opportunity to work with all pharmacy stakeholders who bring the experience and operational knowledge that will help to ensure the best possible outcome as the new regulations take effect.

"On behalf of patients from every corner of the province, pharmacists remain committed to fighting for front-line healthcare in Ontario," said Winn.

About Ontario's Community Pharmacies

The Ontario's Community Pharmacies coalition is the unified voice of community pharmacy in Ontario, representing independent owner-operated stores, "banner" groups of independently-owned stores that work together, as well as large and small pharmacy chains. The coalition is supported by the associations and organizations that represent both the profession and the neighbourhood business of pharmacy, including the Ontario Pharmacists' Association, the Independent Pharmacists Association of Ontario, the Canadian Association of Chain Drug Stores and the Ontario Chain Drug Association.


For further information: For further information: Ontario's Community Pharmacies Coalition Media Hotline, (416) 226-9100 x202

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