A deal between Loblaw and Manulife Financial Corp. involving specialty prescription drugs is creating a stir among Canadian officials, reports Global News.
The exclusive arrangement between Manulife and the grocer affects around 260 medications under Manulife’s Specialty Drug Care program. The meds are used to treat complex, chronic, or life-threatening conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, pulmonary arterial hypertension, cancer, osteoporosis, and hepatitis C. Those drugs can now only be found at Shoppers Drug Mart and other Loblaw-owned pharmacies.
Previously medications under the Specialty Drug Care Program also were available through national home and community health care provider Bayshore HealthCare.
Manulife says the deal with Loblaw will provide more options for group benefits members to receive their specialty medications, with patients able to pick up drugs from a Loblaw-owned store or have them delivered to their home.
“At this time, to evolve our program, it’s appropriate to select a single service provider to move the program forward for the benefit of our customers and their employees,” said Doug Bryce, Manulife vice president of product and platforms.
Canada’s federal minister in charge of promoting competition, Francois-Philippe Champagne, has taken issue with the exclusive arrangement because it limits the pharmacy options for patients who need the medication.
Champagne said the government is examining the deal.