Barrette seeks to cut Quebec drug costs with generic pharmaceuticals

Barrette seeks to cut Quebec drug costs with generic pharmaceuticals
Barrette seeks to cut Quebec drug costs with generic pharmaceuticals

Published on: July 16, 2017 | Last Updated: July 16, 2017 10:31 AM EDT

Gaétan Barrette's reforms have weakened Montreal's world-class, English-language university health centre, Allison Hanes says.

Quebec Health Minister Gaétan Barrette is expected to announce Sunday that he's reached an agreement with the pharmaceutical industry. Pierre Obendrauf / Montreal Gazette

Quebec Health Minister Gaétan Barrette is expected to announce Sunday morning that he’s reached an agreement with the pharmaceutical industry.

Barrette has been holding talks with the Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association to lower drug prices.

Quebec planned to open the generic prescription drug market up for bids, a process that would cut costs by 25 to 35 per cent.

Last week, the pharmacy chain Jean Coutu Group said it expects generic-drug manufacturers to reach a negotiated settlement with the Quebec to avoid tendering in what could be a blueprint for a pan-Canadian solution to lower drug prices.

Barrette made the announcement after a week of facing criticism on all sides, from his handling of governance at the McGill University Health Centre to his health reforms launched in 2015.

On Monday, 10 independent members of the MUHC board of directors resigned, saying they have been hamstrung by Barrette. They said they cannot work with a minister who threatens trusteeship and refuses to engage with them.

On Tuesday, Jean Coutu, founder of the chain of pharmacies, denounced Barrette’s “lack of respect” in the debate surrounding government efforts to seek better prices on generic drugs and negotiate fees for pharmacists providing more health services.

A report on Wednesday showed the number of health care workers in Quebec going on stress leave has skyrocketed.

Friday, the father of Quebec medicare, former Liberal health minister Claude Castonguay, called Barrette’s health care reforms “a total failure.”

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