EDMONTON, AB (May 13, 2013): Today, the Wildrose Official Opposition joined Jody Shkrobot, an Edmonton-based pharmacist and former head of the Canadian Pharmacists Association (CPA), to present a petition calling on the PC government to reconsider its ill-advised central planning price controls on generic drugs.
The move – which forces pharmacies to sell generic drugs at 18 per cent of name-brand prices – has caused instability in the pharmacy community and in patient care across the province. The petition was signed by over 25,000 concerned Albertans and reads: “We, the undersigned residents of Alberta, petition the Legislative Assembly to encourage the Government of Alberta to implement policy that ensures access to and quality of the services currently provided by community pharmacies and pharmacists in Alberta is maintained.” “Instead of taking modest steps to recognize that reasonable reductions for the price of generic drugs were attainable, this Health Minister bit off more than he could chew and now he has threatened the viability of pharmacies, opened the door for drug shortages and continues to compromise patient care,” Wildrose Official Opposition Leader Danielle Smith said. Since the PC government introduced regulatory changes to pharmacies in March, the Wildrose has long warned about the dangers of demanding unilateral changes to pharmacies by implementing an across the board reduction of generic drugs down to 18 per cent of the brand name price without consulting patients, pharmacists and industry. Recently, it was revealed that only 80 out of 4,600 generic drugs covered by the province are selling at 18 per cent of brand name prices. Most are selling at 25 per cent and 115 drugs actually increased in price. “We know that the market standard for generic drug costs sits at around 25 per cent, but the minister instead continues to insist to force through his centralized pricing policy without considering the long-term consequences,” Smith said. Shkrobot said that the amount of support for the petition has been overwhelming and that he hopes that the government will start listening. “The changes by the minister have created significant problems in our pharmacy as we struggle to meet the needs of our patients,” Shkrobot said. “We hope that all MLAs will begin to listen and ensure the government takes action.” Wildrose Lac La Biche-St. Paul-Two Hills MLA Shayne Saskiw said that today’s petition shows how the instability among pharmacies caused from PC mismanagement is being felt across the province. “The government’s changes to date have caused protests, closures and service interruptions all while risking patient care,” Saskiw said. “The government needs to quit while it is ahead and begin to work with pharmacists like Mr. Shkrobot to create a solution that benefits all Albertans.”