A Drug War

(Through Rose-Coloured Glasses)

A drug war is raging, in Ontario.

It started as a cost cutting exercise. The Ontario government wants to cut the health care budget by limiting the cost of generic drugs to 25% of their brand names (now at 50%). The government pin-pointed the expensive cost of the generic drugs, as compared with other countries like US and UK, is due to the “professional allowances” fee paid by the generic drug companies to the pharmacies for stocking their drugs on their shelf space. This professional fee will be outlawed.

The government says the “professional allowances” inflate the cost of drugs up to 82 per cent higher than in other jurisdictions, and increase the money spent on prescriptions for seniors and social assistance recipients under the publicly funded Ontario Drug Benefit program, which amounts to $800 million annually. It also insists the “professional allowances” paid to pharmacists have been abused because the money doesn’t always go directly to patient care, as required by law.

Generic drug companies warned that such cut could make it difficult for them to afford the development and production of some medications.

Shoppers Drug Mart warned this cut in income will lead to stores closing, pharmacists laid off and store hours shortened. This protest was joined in by the the other big chain, Rexall, the next day. The war is on.

As expected, we the ordinary citizens are the immediate collateral damages. Before any benefit of this cost cutting measure even dribbles down to us consumers, if it ever will, we are already facing shortened store hours, cutting of services, increase of dispensing fees, delivery charges and the whole nine yard.

How come in any war between the big government and big coporation/unions, we ordinary citizens are as usual, be the first casualty and were left holding the bag?

We are left scratching our heads. For sure the arguments put forward by both sides are all valid, 公説公有理, 婆説婆有理, but here we are, always ended up the real losers.

This reminds me of a popular puzzle that circulates around on Internet.

Three guys walk into town. They go into a hotel and ask for a room they can share. The clerk has just the thing they want for thirty dollars. The clerk sends them to the room, takes out the ledger, and realizes that he made a mistake. The room costs only twenty-five dollars. Now he has to divide five dollars evenly three ways. Can’t be done. So the clerk pockets two dollars, tells the guys that he made a three dollar mistake and gives them each a single. Now, each man paid only nine dollars for his share of the room. Nine times three equals twenty seven, plus the two in the clerk’s pocket equals twenty nine. Where’s the other dollar?

While you are trying to figure out where did the other dollar go, you have already lost track of the fact that the clerk pocketed your toonie. You are already the real loser.

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