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Published February 5, 2024

Manulife to cover specialty drugs at any pharmacy after backlash over Loblaw deal

Shopper Drug Mart - CP

Toronto

Manulife Financial Corp. says patients who require specialty drugs will be able to fill their prescriptions at any pharmacy after backlash sparked by the insurance provider signing an exclusive arrangement with Loblaw Cos. Ltd.

Manulife Canada chief executive Naveed Irshad says the company listened to concerns expressed by patients over the past week and wants to ensure all Canadians under its coverage "have choice, access, and flexibility in managing their health."

In an update posted to its website, Manulife says it's implementing the change "swiftly."

The insurance provider told patients last month its specialty drug program would transition to being carried out "primarily" through Shoppers Drug Mart and other Loblaw-owned pharmacies. Manulife had previously also covered specialty drugs through national home and community health-care provider Bayshore HealthCare.

The program affects around 260 medications meant to treat complex, chronic or life-threatening conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s, multiple sclerosis, pulmonary arterial hypertension, cancer, osteoporosis and hepatitis C.

Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne said last week he was concerned about the deal and that the companies involved "don't get the message" about the need for increased competition.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 5, 2024

Banner image via The Canadian Press

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