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Shoppers offers compromise over drug reform legislation

Shoppers Drug Mart coughed up a compromise Thursday in its dispute with the Ontario government, saying it would support the elimination of professional allowances paid to pharmacists if the province amends its legislation to reduce costs for pharmacies.

Shoppers Drug Mart coughed up a compromise Thursday in its dispute with the Ontario government, saying it would support the elimination of professional allowances paid to pharmacists if the province amends its legislation to reduce costs for pharmacies.

Toronto-based Shoppers, which has a big presence in Ontario, has led a highly public fight against the provincial government’s proposed legislation to cut off fees that Shoppers and other pharmacists have been receiving from generic drug companies.

After a nearly month-long campaign that included in-store petitions and ads in large newspapers, the chain struck a more conciliatory tone at its general shareholders meeting.

“We absolutely support lower costs,” Shoppers chief executive Jurgen Schrieber said during the company’s annual general meeting in Toronto.

“There’s no question that’s what has to be and we absolutely support there are no professional allowances ... There are just a few things we have to address.”

Schreiber said Shoppers is asking the government for “fair price for services,” noting that the $7-per-prescription dispensing fee reimbursement from the Ontario government falls far short of the $14 that Shoppers says it costs to fill a prescription.

But he would not say what price he considered fair.

He also wants pharmacists to be able to negotiate drug prices with commercial partners. Currently prices are regulated by the government.

 
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