Tuesday, March 14, 2017


Gov't Admits to Having no Drug Price Control

Macdonald takes Terry Lake to task on big pharma

Myrtle Macdonald, M. Sc., Chilliwack, Author


ear Ms. Macdonald:

The Honourable Terry Lake, Minister of Health, has asked me to respond to your email of January 31, 2017, regarding drug pricing and PharmaCare. I am pleased to provide you with the following answers to your questions on his behalf.


Manufacturers are in the business of making medications to enrich themselves and their share owners. The federal, provincial and municipal governments should investigate at arm’s length and take control. Generic drug manufacturers may be paying the drug companies more money than necessary. Some may even be splitting the profits with the private corporations. That is corrupt.


Please be advised, provincial governments do not have a direct role in the regulation of drug prices. The prices of brand name or patented medicines are subject to direct price controls through the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board (PMPRB), a quasi-judicial federal body.


The purpose of the PMPRB is to protect Canadian consumers and contribute to health care by ensuring manufacturers' prices for patented medicines are not excessive. To do this, the PMPRB regulates the price of each patented drug product sold in Canada, including each strength of each dosage form.


The PMPRB is accountable to Parliament through the federal Minister of Health. For more information, visit their website at: www.pmprb-cepmb.gc.ca.


To help achieve greater value for publicly‑funded drug programs and patients, British Columbia participates in the pan‑Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance (pCPA), which conducts joint provincial/territorial negotiations for brand name drugs in Canada. All brand name drugs coming forward for funding through the national review processes, the Common Drug Review or the pan‑Canadian Oncology Drug Review, are considered for negotiation through the pCPA. If a decision is made to proceed with negotiations, the pCPA negotiates with manufacturers in order to get the best value possible for participating jurisdictions. BC is one of the participating jurisdictions in the pCPA.


For more information about the activities of the pCPA you can visit their website at: www.pmprovincesterritoires.ca/en/initiatives/358-pan-canadian-pharmaceutical-alliance.


Should not all provinces have similar Pharmacare and MSP? For all to have widely differing sources and benefits adds to cost and confusion.


The Canada Health Act (the Act) states that provincial governments must provide universal coverage for medically necessary hospital and doctors’ services. Prescription drug coverage outside hospitals is not covered by the Act or the federal government. Each province runs—and pays for—its own prescription drug program. Provinces have different budgets and priorities so coverage varies from province to province.


In British Columbia, the Medical Services Plan (MSP) and PharmaCare are separate programs within the Ministry of Health (the Ministry). MSP covers physician and hospital services. PharmaCare assists residents with the cost of prescription drugs and certain medical supplies.


As you may know, coverage under the Fair PharmaCare plan provides assistance to residents with the cost of eligible prescription drugs and designated medical supplies based on their net income reported to the Canada Revenue Agency.


As you may also know, the current federal government addressed the idea of a national PharmaCare program during their recent election campaign. They said that they will work with the provinces to lower drug costs and determine how to make measurable progress on the health care issues that matter to Canadians, including the affordability of prescription drugs. They also said that they are committed to creating a plan that covers the catastrophic costs associated with major diseases like cancer, diabetes, and arthritis.


The federal government are known to silence or get rid of whistle blowers. Please provide more arms length well qualified staff. Adequate professional staffing will correct this corruption.


How regularly do Canada’s Food and Drug Inspectors monitor all medications available by prescription in the province? Are some bought directly from China, USA, Europe and central American countries?


Insist on Federal and Provincial drug inspection services to be very well staffed with highly qualified Pharmacists.


Health Canada (www.hc-sc.gc.ca) works with governments, industry and consumers to establish policies, regulations and standards related to the safety and nutritional quality of all food sold in Canada. They are responsible for assessing the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's activities related to food safety. You may wish to direct your concerns regarding food and drug inspections, to Health Canada at Info@hc-sc.gc.ca.


You may wish to address your concerns regarding federal government practice and staffing to the federal government.


There are far too many pharmacies, which increases overhead because of reduplicated services, buildings and taxes. It is astonishing how many new drug stores have been opened in Chilliwack in the past two years. There are six or more new pharmacies, which doubles what we had three years ago in a town of 70,000 population. The pharmacies were not too busy when there were only six. Who can stop this proliferation?? Some should lose their licenses.


City planning falls under the jurisdiction of municipal government. You may wish to address your concerns about the density of pharmacies in your community to the City of Chilliwack. More information about city planning is available on their website at www.chilliwack.ca/main/page.cfm?id=2270.


Good pharmacists are very knowledgeable about medications and very supportive of patients. Shoppers Drug Mart, London Drugs and Walmart are very impersonal. You cannot get to know the pharmacists and they remain strangers in an outlet popularized by hundreds of people buying food, cosmetics, stationary, electronics, a post office and cleaning supplies, etc.


Is it ethical and safe for the patient and for the industries to have pharmacies in grocery stores? is it economical for the patient? Staffing them properly is more expensive than grocery stores are willing to do.


There are many levels of the hierarchy of supervision and administration, most of which have little or no knowledge of the manufacture, scientific quality assurance, sale techniques and criteria for diagnosis and prescription. If they were skilled in these areas at one time, they have become out of date and unfamiliar with new medications. Please governments and drug companies: cut down drastically on this waste of money on high salaries, and use the money saved to appoint in every pharmacy, at least one pharmacist with an M.Sc. or doctors degree.


It is a waste of Pharmacists’ skill to have so many pharmacies in one small city. Better to add them to understaffed drug stores and send them back for refresher courses and higher degrees in their profession.


Please be advised that the College of Pharmacists of BC (the College) is the regulatory body for pharmacy in BC and is responsible for registering pharmacists and licensing pharmacies throughout the province. The College’s mandate is to protect the public by ensuring pharmacists provide safe and effective care to help people achieve better health. As such, the College is also responsible for investigating all concerns related to a pharmacist’s professional practice.


You may wish to address your concerns about pharmacist practice and training, as well as pharmacy environments to the College by emailing them at info@bcpharmacists.org.


Thank you for the opportunity to respond to your concerns. I hope you find this information of interest.




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