The Official Opposition Health Care critic, France Gélinas, says the pervasiveness of kickbacks from pharmaceutical companies to pharmacies — designed to push their generics over those of competitors’ — affirms Ontario’s need for universal pharmacare, a prescription drug plan that covers everyone.
This weekend, CBC’s investigative news program The Fifth Estate reported that the practice of drug companies paying pharmacies a fee to carry their generic drug products is allegedly rampant in the province, with consumers shouldering the burden of severely inflated costs. The practice is illegal in Ontario.
“A parent who needs antibiotics for a sick child, a student dealing with asthma, or someone managing diabetes — all of them are forced to pay absurdly high generic drug costs because of years of costs being driven up by successive Conservative and Liberal governments — including Kathleen Wynne and Doug Ford — governments that refused to create a universal pharmacare plan,” Gélinas said.
“Ontarians pay among the highest prices in the world for generic drugs. Wynne and Ford have stood by while drug companies and pharmacy chains profit on the backs of Ontario consumers. It’s disgusting and illegal.”
In a filmed, undercover investigation of 17 Ontario pharmacies, the Fifth Estate found that all but one of the pharmacists openly asked about the “rebate” they would get for putting a particular drug on their shelves. Several referred to a typical kickback being as high as 70 per cent of the drug’s retail cost.
“Instead of allowing the Wild West of drug pricing, under a pharmacare system, we’d have the purchasing power of 14 million Ontarians,” said Gélinas. “Pharmacare will mean lower costs, less stress and better health for people. It’ll mean no one in Ontario has to cut their pills in half to make the bottle last longer, or go without the medicine they need because they can’t afford it.”
SOURCE – The Official Opposition Health Care critic, France Gélinas
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