Drugstores participate in protest against budgetary cuts

Rimbey drugstore owners will suspend services during the high point of the business day Thursday, April 11

Rimbey drugstore owners will suspend services during the high point of the business day Thursday, April 11 in protest against the government’s decision to slash pharmacy reimbursement without consulting pharmacists.

Carl Ziegler from Rimbey Pharmasave and Patrick Rurka from Rimbey Value Drug Mart will join other pharmacists in an Alberta-wide protest against the budgetary move. The drugstores will be closed from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 11.

Both pharmacies will have staff present at the entrance encouraging discussion and providing a petition for concerned patients to sign. The pricing of six generic drugs was reduced April 1 from 35 per cent of the cost of the brand name drugs to 18 per cent and the remainder will be slashed May 1.

Ziegler regrets inconveniencing his customers.

“The decision to close isn’t something taken for granted but to ensure that the doors stay open going forward, we need to get the government’s attention. They certainly have shown little interest in our profession and the services we provide.

“They have completely blindsided our association and profession by cutting the pricing of generics literally in half. This devastates the ability for any pharmacy to continue to offer the broad range of services we once did.”

Rurka said the government’s decision to dictate the price for which he can buy and sell drugs without leaving enough room to cover costs, has left him no alternative but to stand up and object.

“The care and safety of our customers is, and always will be, the cornerstone of our business. We need the government to come back to the table so we can find a middle ground that will work for all sides.

“The proposed system is almost crippling with extra paperwork that decreased the amount of time we can spend with patients.”

The government needs to relax the criteria for annual care plans and medication assessments so that all Albertans are eligible, he added.

“Regrettably, the accessibility of pharmacists will be hindered and this was one of our greatest strengths as a profession; to be accessible and able to serve our patients,” noted Ziegler.

Pharmacy rallies are being held throughout Alberta.

On April 11, pharmacists will present the government with petitions signed by concerned patients.