Concern over mail order medications

Cole Carruthers
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Pharmacist Ryan Haggerty said he has received concerns from customers over having to now
receive their medications by mail from Express Scripts Canada, located in Winnipeg.

Pharmasave pharmacist Ryan Haggarty has heard from customer concerned over having to receive their medications from a mail order system instead of from their local pharmacy.

“Express Scripts Canada (ESC) has recently begun providing central dispensing pharmacy services to its insurance clients,” Haggarty told the Times-Herald.

According to Haggarty, ESC clients will now have their maintenance medications (defined as any medication the patient will be on for three months or more) provided to them via a delivery from ESC’s central pharmacy in Winnipeg. ESC provides group benefits to several large employers, including Canadian Pacific Railway and Canada Post.

“The first, and perhaps biggest ethical issue is that ESC has forced its beneficiaries into this service. To continue receiving drug benefits, they must accept the terms and conditions laid out by ESC,” Haggarty said. “The patient that I spoke with expressed his outrage regarding this ultimatum, as neither he nor his fellow employees were given the option to opt out of using the central pharmacy without losing their drug benefits.”

Another concern raised by Haggarty is a mail order system operating out of one province and providing services to clients in another province. “Being that pharmacy laws and regulations differ (sometimes significantly) from province to province, by providing dispensing services to clients outside of its home province, I question how this pharmacy can function within the laws of each individual province.”

Haggarty said this applies to simple things such as maximum dispensing quantities, to things such as the Prescription Review Program (unique to Saskatchewan), which dictates what information must appear on prescriptions for controlled and targeted substances.

The local pharmacist is also concerned with the handling of another Saskatchewan information system being subject to a company not running out of the province. “In Saskatchewan, we have the Pharmaceutical Information Program (PIP), on which all prescriptions filled in the province are captured for health care professionals within the circle of care to view when necessary,” Haggarty said. “With prescriptions being filled outside of Saskatchewan, they do not appear on PIP. Some provinces have similar systems in place, but I am speaking only for Saskatchewan here. There are a number of situations where this becomes problematic, and potentially very dangerous.”

“In July 2012, Express Scripts Pharmacy Central Ltd. was granted a licence to operate a pharmacy in the province of Manitoba by the Manitoba Pharmaceutical Association (MPhA). As such it abides by and is fully compliant with the laws and regulations established by the MPhA,” an Express Scripts Canada spokesperson told the Times-Herald. “Express Scripts Canada puts the interests of its patients first and, as such, continues to be receptive to sharing information with the Saskatchewan Pharmaceutical Information Program (PIP).”

For more on this article pick up the next issue of the Times-Herald.

Organizations: Express Scripts, Times-Herald, Canadian Pacific Railway Canada Post MPhA Manitoba Pharmaceutical Association

Geographic location: Saskatchewan, Winnipeg, Manitoba

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