Bill 92 amendments reduce drug costs, but so too will Quebec’s latest agreement

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At the close of last year, the Quebec government passed Bill 92, An Act to extend the powers of the Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec and to amend various legislative provisions.

Among the eighty-four amendments contained in Bill 92, is the requirement for pharmacies to detail drug cost, markup, and dispensing and/or professional fees on the pharmacy receipt.

While this kind of detailed breakdown is common practice in other Canadian provinces, it is new to Quebec and is effective September 15, 2017. Comments about this specific amendment suggest that transparency will boost plan sponsors’ efforts to educate plan members about drug pricing while inspiring competition among pharmacies…ultimately pushing drug prices down.

Bill 92: A new opportunity to educate plan members

Research routinely indicates that benefit plan members are insensitive to drug pricing. However, with the new receipt format, we can anticipate a heightened awareness at the pharmacy counter about real drug costs versus markups and/or dispensing fees. Heightened awareness can be turned into a new opportunity to educate plan members. While the plan member’s freedom to choose a pharmacist remains protected under 42.2 of the Act, we encourage plan sponsors to use this opportunity to reinforce the benefits of shopping around for the lowest drug cost. Read the Act.

Bill 92: Increased competition will lead to savings

Drug receipt transparency is expected to encourage price competitiveness and, as a result, lead to sustained and lower dispensing and professional fees. Although the anticipated savings from new transparency rules might be minor when compared to the expected 40% or $1.5-billion savings from Quebec’s new agreement with generic drug makers, Bill 92 and its call for transparency is good news for plan sponsors.

The new generic drug deal

As Quebec’s Health Minister Gaetan Barrette just announced July 16, 2017, the government has agreed to negotiate price reductions with generic drug makers rather than enter a tendering process. This Agreement in Principle was met with enthusiasm and support by the Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association (CGPA). Read about the new deal here. Once the new agreement is in place (expected by fall of 2017), plan sponsors should see a significant reduction in generic drug costs.