HALIFAX – The proposed changes announced today to the Nova Scotia Pharmacare program are encouraging, but steps need to be taken to ensure rural pharmacies are protected and stakeholders are properly consulted.
“The escalating cost of purchasing generic drugs in Nova Scotia is alarming, so I am pleased to hear Health Minister Maureen MacDonald is seriously considering measures to try and curtail the spending,” said Progressive Conservative Health critic, Chris d’Entremont. “I am concerned about a couple of the measures, however, that could have negative effects on rural pharmacies if not handled correctly.”
The five methods of action the Department of Health is considering include limiting pharmacy rebates and defining the price paid to pharmacies for drugs. If not implemented right, the end result could be rural pharmacies having to shut their doors.
“A rural pharmacy generally deals in lesser volumes than an urban pharmacy, so a cap on rebates could significantly affect their bottom line,” said d’Entremont. “When that is coupled with a defined price for drugs, the result could be fewer pharmacies operating in rural Nova Scotia, meaning farther travel for some residents to get the medication they need.”
D’Entremont, a former Health Minister, is encouraging Nova Scotians to take part in the consultation process the Department of Health is holding.
“As consumers, we are all stakeholders and should have a say in how Pharmacare operates in Nova Scotia,” said d’Entremont. “The consultation period is quite short, starting now and continuing until early October, but I hope Nova Scotians take the opportunity to provide feedback to the Minister and the Department.”