Are Ontario pharmacies guilty of ageism?

A commentary relating to a recently published column written for the Toronto Star by Rachel Mendlseon. See Mendleson: MENDLESON

Recently, CARP (Canadian Association of Retired Persons) proposed that the Ontario government cover the added  prescription dispensing fees currently charged by many pharmacies in Ontario only addresses the symptoms, not the underlying cause of the problem.

 According to a CBC article, the practice of filling a prescription for a 30 day requirement is recommended by the Canadian Pharmacists Association to “protect the country’s medical supply chains” GREEN LIGHT GOUGE  

The first issue that should concern public health officials is that this directive by CPA is putting persons with medical conditions at higher risk to themselves and others.  The directive is causing persons with medical conditions to make additional trips to a pharmacy (place where other persons with medical conditions are also going) when trips should be avoided.  

The second issue is that Canada is not currently master of a secure supply of prescription drugs.  According to a Global News article COVID & CANADA’S DRUG SUPPLY  

  • 80% of the world’s supply of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients come from China; 
  • India is among the top world producers of medical pharmaceuticals;
  • “Canada currently has more than 2000 ongoing drug shortages, none related to COVID-19”.

The recent closing of borders by India and China has only highlighted Canada’s dependency on global suppliers.  Limiting prescription fills to 30 day supply is no different than a war time rationing. The same impact on Canada could also result as collateral damage from trade disputes. Security of our drugs supply will never be remedied until Canada produces its needs in house.

The third issue as covered by your article is the added cost of dispensing fees to the consumer. At a time when many are out of work and government is providing financial relief to those hardest hit, it runs against the grain that pharmacies are doing the contrary by increasing total dispensing fees charged. Not everyone has medical plans to pay the added fees.  Passing the fees down to consumers and insurance plans is just passing the buck as it does nothing to fix the root cause of the drug supply shortage.  Perhaps if government mandated one dispensing fee only per prescription ie no additional fees if it takes multiple fills, the CPA and pharmacists would be encouraged to get involved to secure Canada’s drug independence. The pocketbook has always been a powerful incentive for action.

Thanks for your time.
Pickering, ON

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