Has the CPhA lost its way? Did it ever have one?

A couple of weeks ago the Globe & Mail published an editorial criticizing the lack of a national Pharmacare Program.

“One of the great oddities of Canada’s universal health-care system is that it isn’t paired with universal pharmacare.” The Globe states.

The piece goes on to repeat the fact that every other industrialized country on earth includes drugs in their universal healthcare plans, and that drugs are covered in hospitals but not when patients are discharged, often forcing patients to become “bed blockers”.  All this stuff pharmacists know already.

But here is the part that’s hard to take.  The editorial cites an analysis done by the Canadian MEDICAL Association, which goes on to cite how drugs in Canada are as much as 84% lower in New Zealand, for the same drugs from the same sourced generic drug companies.  Note, this is the Canadian MEDICAL Association (NOT the Canadian PHARMACEUTICAL Association) …even though this is a critical discussion and advocacy initiative about drugs.

“Paying for prescription drugs in Canada is an overpriced crapshoot.  Too many people are forced to choose between buying drugs and paying for food.  The Canadian MEDICAL Association Journal’s solution is to call for baby steps.  CMA wants Ottawa to create a national pharmacare system for a list of 117 ‘essential’ generic drugs that are commonly prescribed.”  All this, the CMA states will result in lower drug prices and save the government tons of money while increasing patient care.”   This is motherhood stuff.  Who could be against this?

The big question here is: Why was this important initiative not championed by the Canadian PHARMACEUTICAL Association, and not published in the Canadian PHARMACEUTICAL Journal?

Does Big Pharmacy Retail (BPR) really want lower generic drug prices?  Will pharmacists ultimately be better off financially under a universal Pharmacare program?  Do Canadian generic drug companies really want to be forced to be more competitive and to lower drug prices?  Does pharmacy in general have a BIG conflict of interest when it come to the subject of lower drug prices and even more government control?  No, no, no and yes would be a good guess at the four answers.

So where is the Canadian Pharmaceutical Association (CPhA) in all this?  The CPhA states its mission to be:    “MISSION: Advancing the health and well-being of Canadians through excellence in pharmacist care”.

Apparently CPhA kicked off Pharmacist Awareness Month by firing two pharmacists, leaving no pharmacists in management at present. Allegedly, both the CPhA Journal’s Editor In Chief and its Managing Editor were shown the door over a dispute over editorial control, with the CEO

This occurred over the firing of the officer in charge of Professional & Public Affairs (a pharmacist) with the hiring of an individual who is not a pharmacist but a former colleague of the CEO.

Professional Affairs is now in the hands of a non-pharmacist who has been routinely quoted, in reference to the medical marijuana and assisted death files, as “getting high and die”

The issue of dispensing medical marijuana (an oxymoron if there ever was one) by pharmacists has become the cause celebre of the CPhA.  The big drug chains of course are really revving up on medical marijuana…could be bigger than tobacco ever was, and think of the opportunities to build traffic.  And then pharmacists sometimes wonder why they don’t get the respect they deserve.

The CPhA CEO is a former banker, (which in these times of hiring non pharmacists to head up pharmacy associations is the norm).  This makes him eminently qualified to run the national association of pharmacy.  Let’s see what the Ontario Pharmacists Association comes up with when it chooses a new CEO.

So when it comes time to discuss and to advocate for one of the most important issues in medication management, patient adherence and overall drug affordability, the mantle is taken up by physicians, and their association the OMA, and the physicians’ journal the CMAJ.

Where are the CPhA, the OPA, and the various other plethora of pharmacy associations across Canada?  …advocating for medical marijuana and even more injection therapy.  Where is Pharmacy’s leadership?

Seems like the CPhA is just too busy rearranging the furniture at headquarters and getting ready for Pharmacist Awareness Month.

Do we really need a whole month?