Quebec is proposing to prohibit owner pharmacists from procuring generic medications from the same manufacturer in an amount in excess of 50% of the monetary value of all the generic medications purchased by that pharmacist during a given calendar year.
Bill 148, An Act to regulate generic medication procurement by owner pharmacists and to amend various legislative provisions, was tabled in the National Assembly on October 5. It will introduce the proposed prohibition through a new regulation, the Regulation to govern generic medication procurement by owner pharmacists, and will make other related amendments, mostly to An Act respecting Prescription Drug Insurance.
Among the new rules, pharmacists will have to report annually on their purchases of each brand of generic medication. The bill also provides for fines of up to $100,000 for failure to comply with the new regulation.
The bill has been referred to the Committee on Health and Social Services for special consultations, with public hearings scheduled for November 7 and 8. Comments on the bill can be made online, but only until November 8.1
Since 2015, Bills 28, 81 and, most recently, 92 have made significant changes to the way the prescription drug insurance regime is governed in Quebec. Most of the new measures aimed to reduce the cost of providing public drug insurance. A number were intended to enhance competition within the drug market in the hope of reducing drug prices and, hence, insurance costs. Bill 148 appears to fit within the latter policy, designed to encourage a multiplicity of suppliers, presumably with a view to increasing competition and, therefore, reducing prices. Whether this will have the desired effect remains to be seen. It is also plausible it might have the opposite effect, forcing pharmacists to diversify their sources of supply even if doing so increases costs.