CARP Win: No to preferred pharmacy arrangements

The announcement by Manulife Financial Corp. to exclusively cover certain prescription drugs at Loblaw Cos. Ltd. pharmacies raised the concern of CARP. The change would have affected approximately 260 medications under Manulife’s Specialty Drug Care program, which includes drugs for complex, chronic, or life-threatening conditions.

 Preferred pharmacy network arrangements, where insurers select a single service provider, appear to be  a way for insurers to exercise market power in the pharmacy sector. While these arrangements can offer benefits to insurers and patients, such as potential cost savings, they also raise concerns about limiting options for patients and potentially squeezing smaller pharmacies out of the market.

 CARP had concerns about the impact on smaller pharmacies and potential limitations for patients. For example, CARP members choose their pharmacies for a host of reasons, including ease of access and long-standing and productive relationships with pharmacists. 

CARP raised the alarm about this move, alerted the media and questioned the fairness of such exclusive arrangements in the broader landscape of pharmacare policies in Canada.

CARP was very pleased to achieve a major win! Thanks to our lobbying efforts, Manulife has reversed its decision and will now cover specialty drugs filled at ANY pharmacy. This turnaround came only just days after Manulife initially declared it would only cover drugs filled at Loblaw-owned pharmacies.

This achievement highlights the power of advocacy and collective action. While sometimes advocacy can be a marathon, CARP wins are also sometimes sprints.

Read More about the importance of pharmacies in Canadian Healthcare.