Surprise proposal to cut generic prices by another 20 per cent is misguided, according to the Ontario Pharmacists' Association, when services provided by pharmacists could save hundreds of millions of dollars in the long run
TORONTO, April 23, 2012 /CNW/ - The Ontario Pharmacists' Association (OPA) came out strongly in opposition to the surprise proposal announced Friday by the Ontario government to once again ask pharmacies to bear the brunt of reducing healthcare costs. Ontario already has the lowest generic prices in the country and furthermore, its pharmacists are not yet allowed to provide the new and much needed services that their counterparts in most provinces in Canada, as well as the U.K and the U.S. can. The Association believes the government should focus and act immediately on expanding the services that pharmacists provide to patients which could yield over $130,000,000 in health system savings per year while dramatically improving accessibility for many Ontarians.
"This is a very surprising and short-sighted proposal," said Darryl Moore, Chair of OPA. "The government passed legislation in 2009 that would increase the scope of services pharmacists could provide - health care that would improve patient outcomes, reduce hospital emergency room admissions and take some pressure of overloaded physicians offices - and yet have not implemented that legislation.
"Enabling pharmacists to use their skills to deliver more healthcare services to Ontarians and achieve the long-term objectives of a more efficient system could save much more than the proposed $55 million from generic drug price cuts and would avoid the significant strain such cuts place on drug supply and pharmacy operations. This is a much more strategic approach than announcing an unwarranted cut to generic drug prices only three days before the budget vote."
Since 2010, the government has obtained almost $500 million in savings from the pharmacy sector, which continues to struggle with changes in the reimbursement pharmacies receive for the medications they provide. Pharmacists provide services to seniors and other recipients of the provincial public drug program related to the more than 100 million Ontario Drug Benefit prescriptions dispensed and managed annually. Pharmacists' dispensing and non-dispensing services are critical to helping Ontario achieve its goals of a modern, sustainable, and publicly-funded healthcare system.
The passage of Bill 179 in December 2009 set the stage for an increased scope of pharmacy practice, pending the passage of regulations. These regulations would enable pharmacists to extend prescriptions for chronic medications, adjust dosage and forms of medications if necessary, independently prescribe some medications for smoking cessation treatment and potentially for minor ailments, order and receive lab tests to help patients manage chronic diseases and avoid side effects, and provide immunizations and routine injections. With these services, Ontario's pharmacists would be able to provide hundreds of millions of dollars in health system savings annually by reducing pressures on physicians and nurse practitioners, helping avoid emergency room visits related to medication problems, and boosting vaccination rates for seasonal influenza by making it easier for people to get immunized. Ontarians would have increased access to many new services on their own time, thereby increasing workplace productivity and decreasing absenteeism.
There is broad support among the public and experts in health care for the introduction of these new services by pharmacists. Increased utilization of pharmacists as primary care providers already exists in many other provinces, notably British Columbia, Alberta and Nova Scotia. The Drummond report released in February also cited increased utilization of pharmacists as a key component of achieving Ontario's health care goals.
About Ontario Pharmacists' Association
The Ontario Pharmacists' Association is the professional association that represents the views and interests of more than 13,600 pharmacists and pharmacists-in-training across the province. The Association works to inspire excellence in the profession and practice of pharmacy, and to promote wellness for patients. For more information, visit www.opatoday.com.
For further information:
Ontario Pharmacists' Association
416.441.0788, ext. 4266 or 4236