Sue's Blog

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

The Government gets its Way and YOU PAY

Outside of the spectacle most PC MHA's displayed in the House of Assembly last week - regarding the change in generic drug pricing - we have a much more serious problem.

That session of comedy revealed an underlying weakness in our political leadership.

I will let the reader decide if stupidity, corruption, indifference, or vindictiveness is the cause.

First let's agree on a few things.

The following are the essentials of life for people in our province:

1. Food
2. Shelter/Housing
3. Energy
4. Transportation
5. Health Care - including Prescription Medications

Today we will deal with number 1.

The price of food is of primary concern to the vulnerable people of our society. Individuals and families living on fixed low incomes are challenged every day to eat - let alone eat healthy.

Every week when one shops at the supermarket one notices the increase in the price of food. 

Food prices rose 4.1% on a year-over-year basis in February, following a 4.2% increase in January.

What is the response of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador? Nothing! They rely on provincial food banks to hold people over from week to week.

Supermarkets receive rebates for purchases and particular shelf space so there is money in the system to reduce the price of food.

Considering that government (taxpayers) help low to no income people and families through income assistance - in part to buy food - then one would think government would direct food manufacturers to lower the price of generic food. Example - a tin of Carnation milk (brand) compared to a tin of Our Compliments milk (generic). Price of Carnation milk $1.50 and Price of Our Compliments $1.25. Therefore the generic tin milk is priced at 83% of brand. So if the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador lowered the price to 45% of brand then the generic tin of milk would cost 68 cents. Now we're talking.

Then if Dunderdale continued on and lowered the generic milk price to 35% of brand then the price would be 53 cents a tin.

Now if a person or child does not react well to the generic milk and finds that Carnation is the only one they can consume then a special authorization would be needed from government so that they can get enough money to pay for Carnation milk.

While the special authorization is approved - Mr. Sobey could give the customer the milk until the person is approved in 4 weeks. In either case Mr. Sobey would have to wait a week to be paid for the generic milk.

The question is will Tom Marshall, Kathy Dunderdale, and Susan Sullivan ask Mr. Sobey to sharpen his pencil?

For those of you not on any form of income assistance - your price would be lowered too. The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador when regulating prices - apply that price reduction to all citizens.

Do you think the supermarkets can afford to lower their prices?

For many medical conditions - a proper and healthy diet is essential. If the person is a diabetic - incorrect food choices could mean the difference between $1500 dollars worth of drugs a year and $15,000 dollars to keep the disease in check - including otherwise unnecessary stays in the hospital or by a worsening of the disease.

So the biggest problem in Newfoundland and Labrador today is the small independent pharmacy - the same people who day after day ensure people do not go without medications? The pharmacies that have a rotating credit for customers at about $20,000 per pharmacy - the pharmacies that are there whenever they are needed. The pharmacies who have provided free essential services to the people under their care.

Meanwhile the price of generic drugs are going down through competition and are reducing the price of drugs government pays for by replacing brands.

I watched a group of MHA's who were elected to represent people - stand up an speak about something they knew nothing about. The ignorance was incredible. Unfortunately - this means the decisions made are not going to bring the stated desired result.

The government chose this time not to listen to Dr. Wade Locke or the people who are experts in pharmacy services. This time they listened to unknown sources of information but were lobbied by brand companies.

Make no mistake - the money - if any - saved on the generic price changes will be gobbled up by oil and gas giants, mass retail and grocer corporations, and brand drug houses.

Make sure you have the number for your MHA handy as changes occur. It is he or she that has caused the problem.

Changing the face of pharmacy - is not the prescription you need.

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