Published Online: Friday, February 1, 2008

Canadian pharmacists are firing back at critics who accused them of shortchanging their generic prescription drug patients by pocketing rebates paid by manufacturers to get their drugs on pharmacy shelves. The charges were sparked by a report from the Competition Bureau of Canada, which concluded that many generic drug companies offer rebates to pharmacists in order to gain market access, but those savings are not filtering down to patients in the form of lower prices.

According to the report, the rebates paid to pharmacists by generic-drug makers average about 40% of the invoice price for each drug. Responding to those findings, the British Columbia Pharmacy Association (BCPA) said the report failed to note that pharmacy services are underfunded by governments, and that without rebates, many pharmacists may not be able to provide services at all.

"Without the income generated from the rebates coming from the generic manufacturers, necessary pharmacy services would be going unfunded," BCPA Chief Executive Officer Marnie Mitchell said.

In British Columbia, pharmacy reimbursement has remained frozen at $8.60 per prescription since 2003, even though today it costs pharmacies an average of $13.60 per prescription to provide patients with medicines, dispensing services, and counseling, the group said. "By having regular conversations with patients about their health, and working to optimize drug regimens, pharmacists improve the quality of life and health outcomes for patients and keep them out of the hospital," Mitchell said.

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