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Industry NewsManulife reverses decision, offers choice to Canadians for specialty drugs

Manulife reverses decision, offers choice to Canadians for specialty drugs

Manulife has decided to expand its coverage for specialty drugs to include pharmacies beyond the Loblaw-owned network, according to the CBC. 

The decision came just days after the insurance company had announced an exclusive deal with Loblaw-owned pharmacies

Manulife says the swift change in direction was driven by customer feedback and a commitment to its longstanding history and culture, 

“This decision ensures Canadians have choice, access, and flexibility in managing their health,” it reads. The company also promised to implement this change swiftly and provide further updates on its website.

Under this new approach, members with specialty drug prescriptions can still get their medications through Bayshore and Loblaw-owned pharmacies. Additionally, home delivery will continue to be an option for those who prefer it.

The initial deal, which would have exclusively covered around 260 medications through the Loblaw-owned pharmacies under Manulife’s Specialty Drug Care program, drew the ire of customers, drug policy experts, and independent pharmacists. They voiced concerns that the preferred pharmacy network arrangement could compromise the quality of pharmaceutical care for patients with complex, chronic, or life-threatening conditions.

“I believe the people have spoken, and this is a question of patient choice and respect for patient’s autonomy and well-being,” independent Toronto pharmacist Kyro Maseh told CBC. 

He further urged against Americanizing Canada’s healthcare system and emphasized the importance of patient choice.

Insurance companies typically cooperate only with particular pharmacies through preferred pharmacy networks to cut costs. Although these agreements are becoming more popular in Canada, specialists like Maseh contend that insurance companies stand to earn more from them than do consumers.

However, some experts suggest that these arrangements could enhance competition in Canada’s pharmaceutical landscape and result in lower costs for patients, according to CBC. 

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