May 10, 2016
On April 13, The Quebec Health Minister Gaetan Barrette finally published in the Quebec Official Gazette the terms of the new professional allowances (PA’s). The change from the current cap of 15% that pharmacists can receive, will now increase to 25% for a period of 6 months starting April 28 2016, and then will increase to 30% for a period of 3 months (November 2016 up to January 2017 included). Then the cap will be removed altogether for a period of 2 years and 3 months. There won’t be any limit for the PA’s during this period which is also referred to as a “pilot program".
This is the result of a long negotiation process following the adoption of Bill 28 in April 2015 between the Health Minister and the Quebec Pharmacy Owners Association (AQPP). The agreement reached at the end of June between the two parties was to remove the PA cap totally for the next 3 years. This agreement was a compromise from the Health Minister to compensate for the $400M reduction in professional fees to pharmacists over the 3-year period that was previously announced.
The AQPP argues that the Health Minister is not honouring its original commitment. Following this week’s announcement, the AQPP has mandated Lucien Bouchard (ex- Quebec Premier and now partner and legal counsel for the law firm Davies Ward Philips & Vineberg ) to initiate a legal procedure to dispute the Health Minister's decision. There will be a period of 30 days for the Health Minister to act on this legal challenge.
Another layer of complexity in this situation is Bill 81 (Tender process for selected generics and distribution exclusivity for the tendered generics). In March, during the hearing for Bill 81 at the National assembly, there were several sessions with Quebec retailers and pharmacist associations that were to say the least unpleasant. The Health Minister challenged the overall profitability and business models of pharmacies in Quebec. This new piece of legislation, which is progressing in parliament, may play a role in the outcome of this dispute.
Stay tuned for more.
For more information, contact [Ghislain Gauthier, Director, The Pangaea Group](mailto: firstname.lastname@example.org)