Send your letter to the editor via email to editor@langleyadvancetimes.com. Please included your first and last name, address, and phone number. (Black Press Media files)

LETTER: Seniors targeted as dispensing fees triple

One reader argues that pharmaceutical gouging during COVID pandemic shouldn’t be allowed

Dear Editor,

[Editor’s Note: Also sent to MLAs Mary Polak and Rich Coleman]

If they are so concerned about the health of us seniors, why did they triple our dispensing fees when we are the most vulnerable?

On March 16, the NDP health ministry and the College of Pharmacists put out a joint statement for pharmacists to provide patients with a prescription refill or an emergency supply of their medications if needed.

On March 19, the College of Pharmacists issued a directive (same hyperlink above) to their members:

“The College is asking pharmacists to act in the best interests of patients by: Providing up to 30-day emergency supplies to patients with expired prescriptions, including narcotics, psychiatric drugs, and anti-psychotics for chronic conditions. This may be repeated for another 30-day supply if necessary.”

Our pharmacy in Langley is limiting each and all prescriptions to 30 day supply.

They are treating all prescriptions as expired and an emergency renewal 30 day supply only.

No matter if the doctors prescription is for a 90 pill/day supply.

Before this college directive, our pharmacy would normally fax our doctors office to get an expired prescription renewed for a 90 pill/day supply.

So the direct consequences of this joint NDP/College of Pharmacists reaction to the COVID-19 crisis is tripling of consumers drug dispensing fees.

RELATED: B.C.’s top doctor details prescription for safe long weekend

In checking with the college, senior compliance officer John Thai basically replied that… They are recommending a maximum one month supply for most people… That these are extraordinary measures… That they expect pharmacists to use professional judgment based on the patients situation…

I phoned another pharmacy in Langley and they are respecting the 30-day directive although they are willing to make some adjustments on the dispensing fees so we decided to give our business to this more reasonable pharmacy.

The college confirmed there is no regulatory limit on dispensing fees, pharmacies as businesses are free to charge whatever.

Is the pharmaceutical industry price gouging?

It appears the pharmaceutical industry is being opportunistic of a pandemic to multiply their fees under the guise of:

• Potential future drug shortages based on fear of unknown, unpredictable supply factors, which has always been the case, plus possible drug hoarding.

• Hoarding of prescription drugs is rare and difficult to pull off because the pharmacies have records of your past prescriptions.

Hoarding is entirely preventable by the pharmacist industry.

Roland Seguin, Langley

READ MORE: Should you stockpile medication during the pandemic? Experts say no

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