SASK. TALKS APPROACH YEAR THREE
REGINA — Lengthy contract talks between the government and the Saskatchewan Pharmaceutical Association (SPhA) have put new projects for alternative reimbursement on hold.
Since talks began in October 1996, the old contract’s terms–a pharmacist’s fee of $6.93 and a 10% markup–have remained in effect. Ray Joubert, SPhA’s registrar, says he hopes a new agreement will be reached “sometime this year,” but declined to comment on what’s been put on the table.
Discussions have, however, been expanded to include two proposals put forward by the SPhA last fall. Both would result in fees for cognitive services, payable from the province’s alternative reimbursement fund for pharmacy.
The fund now contains more than $600,000. It was established in November 1994, when pharmacists began contributing 3¢ from every drug plan prescription. The fund currently finances the province’s trial prescription plan, which pays pharmacists up to $7.50 to dispense a seven- or 10-day trial supply of certain medications. The fund paid out $15,000 for trial prescriptions in the first year (April 1996 to April 1997). This fall, the SPhA is expected to decide whether the fund should continue to collect the 3¢ “check-off” with each drug plan prescription.
SPhA has proposed expanding the list of drugs eligible for trial prescriptions. Details on its second proposal have not been made available.
— Marie Mendenhall
QUEBEC ORDER SEARCHES FOR NEW GM
MONTREAL — After only seven months as general manager and secretary of the Quebec Order of Pharmacists, Marie-Andrée Pilon resigned in early June. Pilon had been named last November as a replacement for Alain Boisvert, who resigned from the professional regulatory body in July 1997.
In a written statement, the Order’s president, Janine Matte, emphasized Pilon’s enthusiasm and dedication. In the wake of Pilon’s departure, Matte has assumed the responsibilities of acting general manager while Pierre Ducharme has been named acting secretary. Matte expects a new executive to be in place by September.
— Louise Gagnon
PHARMA PLUS APPEALS TO SUPREME COURT
TORONTO–Pharma Plus Drugmart Ltd. is hoping to take its fight against the Ontario College of Pharmacists (OCP) to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Pharma Plus is challenging the OCP’s regulation prohibiting the use of a gift, rebate, bonus or other inducement in connection with a prescription or prescription services. In October 1996, the OCP charged Rochelle Stenzler, former president and general manager of Pharma Plus, and Art Ito, then director of health care merchandising (now vice-president of pharmacy and health care), with professional misconduct after the chain launched a grocery certificate program that gives beneficiaries of Ontario’s drug benefit program coupons worth $2.50 at selected supermarkets.
A disciplinary hearing has yet to take place, however, because Pharma Plus has been attempting to contest the regulation in court. In February, the Ontario Court General Division ruled that the OCP has the right to proceed with its disciplinary hearing. Pharma Plus attempted to appeal that ruling, and failed in June. At press time, a lawyer for Stenzler and Ito told Pharmacy Post that his clients “will be seeking leave to appeal the matter to the Supreme Court of Canada within 90 days.”
Meanwhile, Norm Puhl, president and general manager of Pharma Plus, says the program will continue until a final decision is reached.