MAY 2018 – Pharmacy may be in the “the eye of the hurricane” but the opportunities are still within reach, said Shoppers Drug Mart President Jeff Leger, keynote speaker at this year’s Innovation Showcase in Toronto, hosted by the Canadian Foundation for Pharmacy.
“If 2018 ends the way it began, this could be the worst on record for pharmacy in Canada,” said Leger, who is Chair of the Neighbourhood Pharmacy Association of Canada. “So, if we borrow the axiom that every problem is an opportunity…the current landscape affords one huge opportunity.”
Leger noted that the creation of the pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance and subsequent generic drug negotiations have been a game-changer for pharmacy—and especially unnerving because the profession has never been consulted on pricing decisions. “We are highly concerned that governments have not considered downstream impacts to the pharmacy industry,” he said. “Impacts like these lead to profound instability and unpredictability in pharmacy industry operations.”
On the other hand, he said a positive outcome from generic price compression is the fact governments are listening more to value propositions from investing in pharmacists’ services. The profession has also matured in recognizing that “we need to tell our story to more government [officials] than just drug plan managers,” he said.
Leger called on regulatory bodies to create environments that foster innovation to allow the highest possible level of patient care by pharmacists and address barriers to cross-provincial provision of services. And with pharmacy now working with government to tackle some of Canada’s most pressing issues (such as the opioid crisis and access to home care and mental health services), he believes the value of the profession is becoming even more apparent.
He said one of Neighbourhood Pharmacies’ top priorities will be to “harmonize the pharmacy sector towards a unified voice that drills forward on the pharmacy value proposition and insists that government respects our perspective when key decisions are made.”
Leger urged all stakeholders in the room to put aside perceived differences and work together to define and then advance pharmacy’s common interests. “We owe this to our patients.”