Just days after announcing a deal with Loblaw, insurance provider Manulife Financial Corp. is taking a step back, reports Global News.
The exclusive arrangement between Manulife and the grocer, made public on Jan. 30, involved 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.
The deal made the drugs only available at Shoppers Drug Mart and other Loblaw-owned pharmacies.
Now Manulife is saying those meds can be purchased at any pharmacy. The change, according to the insurance provider, came after hearing concerns shortly after the deal was announced.
“Though this change impacts only a small number of our members, it helps ensure that all Canadians we support have choice, access, and flexibility in managing their health. We are proud to partner with thousands of pharmacies across the country and contribute to a strong and healthy Canadian healthcare system,” said Manulife Canada Chief Executive Naveed Irshad in a statement.
Canada’s federal minister in charge of promoting competition, Francois-Philippe Champagne, took issue with the exclusive arrangement because it limits the pharmacy options for patients who need the medication. Champagne said the government was examining the deal.