Sunday, January 31, 2010

Call To Action

In Ontario over the past several weeks, the major players in the retail pharmacy industry have banded together to deal with the current state of affairs. The big three involved are: The Canadian Association of Chain Drug Stores (CACDS), the Independent Pharmacists of Ontario (IPO), and the Ontario Pharmacists Association (OPA). They have even collaborated and formed a website ( to convey their messages and spread the word via facebook groups.

Why? Money, obviously.

And don't get me wrong, I'm all for improving the future financial situation of my profession. It's just funny how these things play out. In reality, the independent pharmacists despise the chain pharmacies, and the chain pharmacies want to wipe out independent pharmacies. Both bad mouth the other to their patients (I've seen and witnessed this on several occasions; and doing relief for both the chains and independents, I can say that confidently).

So why all this hooplah? The government is toying with the idea of getting rid of all rebates, or setting a very pathetic cap on the whole thing. This would cripple pharmacy as we know it. I won't get into the details, but trust me. You think we stay alive making $7.00 on a prescription? Umm, no. It's the rebates we get behind the's always been the rebates. It's no secret. Think about it...has the dispensing fee for ODB (ODB is the government funded drug plan) gone up in the past decade? No. Has inflation...hell yes. Does there seem to be a problem here? Yes.

So picture this. The government never raised the dispensing fee for the past 20 or something years because they knew pharmacies were getting money elsewhere (the rebates from the drug companies). Yes, the government knew all along!! And now, they're saying no more rebates, and we're not going to increase the dispensing fee to make up the difference in revenue. What will happen? Well, patients will suffer and so will pharmacies who focus on prescriptions (and not cosmetics).

So the Ontario Community Pharmacies have banded together to create awareness and try and get the government to change what they are proposing. What are they proposing exactly? Well the people who are meeting with the government won't tell us. Seriously. Even at one of the "Call to Action" meetings which are still taking place at various places across the province, there is some confusion. We are being urged to get our patients to "help us" and have them sign postcards and fax forms to send to the government to "save pharmacy". But even as all of the major players band together and urge the pharmacists of Ontario to do these things, each of the different groups has their own agenda. The meeting told pharmacists to collect signatures and send them off. But then the head office of the chain pharmacies say something different like "ignore what you heard, and do what we tell you instead".


How is anything ever going to get accomplished if the people getting together to speak on behalf of all pharmacists, will sit down at meetings, look each other in the eyes, make a plan, and then do something different?

Call to action? Ya, good luck with that.

The fate of the future of pharmacy in Ontario is in the hands of a bunch of boneheads.

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