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PC policy for pharmacies continues to be bad medicine

EDMONTON, AB (May 2, 2013): Health Minister Fred Horne continues to create instability among pharmacies by saying he intends to bulldoze ahead with across the board central planning price controls on generic drugs, the Wildrose Official Opposition said today.

 Despite the government trying to force drug companies to reduce the price of all generic drugs down to 18% of the brand name price, companies have not been able to comply. Out of the 4,600 drugs covered under Alberta Health, 115 increased in price under the new changes, 535 stayed the same and 2,150 came down to the market standard of 25%, which is the policy in Ontario. The Alberta government so far has only been able to reduce the cost of 80 out of 4,600 generic drugs down to the 18% target. “Clearly, there is room in the market to make reasonable reductions to the cost of generic drugs to improve the lives of patients and ensure our pharmacies remain competitive,” Wildrose Official Opposition Leader Danielle Smith said. “But by unilaterally demanding an across the board reduction to 18% without consulting patients, pharmacists and industry, Mr. Horne has put the viability of local pharmacies at risk.” Smith said that Minister Horne needs to quit while he is ahead, negotiate reasonable reductions in drug prices that reflect what is occurring elsewhere in the Canadian market, stop bullying Alberta pharmacists and create stability in our health care system. “The government needs to stop forcing its centralized pricing policy and begin to consider the long-term consequences if they don’t change course,” Smith said. Wildrose Health Critic Heather Forsyth said that the government plowing ahead with a government-knows-best attitude only harms the health care system. “Other provinces realized that you can only reduce drug prices so far before making pharmacies unviable, creating drug shortages, and compromising patient care, but instead this PC government thought it could set the price for the entire market without talking to those who understand this sector,” Forsyth said. “We need to ensure we have a health system that works for Albertans and that means working with the professionals on the front lines.”