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BC to reopen negotiations on generic drug prices says minister

British Columbia is reopening negotiations on the price of generic drugs in hopes of saving more money, Health Minister Mike de Jong said today.

"I have advised the pharmacy association and the generic drug manufacturers that we will reopen negotiations," said de Jong, adding he notified them earlier this week.

The Tyee reported this morning that the government had until Oct. 1 to provide notice to the B.C. Pharmacy Association and the Canadian Association of Chain Drug Stores if it wanted to renegotiate a 2010 deal that will drop the price of generic drugs from 50 percent to 35 percent of the price of brand name drugs.

Ontario and Quebec each pay 25 percent of the brand name price for generics, and UBC pharmaceutical policy researcher Michael Law said other countries pay even less.

NDP Leader Adrian Dix called on de Jong to reopen the deal and save taxpayers' money.

A government spokesperson said Monday the ministry would have more to say in the coming days.

"The agreement was signed on the basis that over the life of the three-year deal there would be savings of $170 million," de Jong said today.

"The good news is we are projected at this point to realize savings of $122 million," he said. "That's almost $50 million short of where it should be. That's not good enough."

He added, "Unless those savings can be made up the government will look at a legislated option."

"For a year we've been raising this issue as a place for cost savings," said Dix. "Our approach today has been vindicated . . . What it says is in the previous years they were spending $122 million too much."

The province signed a deal that was worse than those reached by Ontario and Quebec, he said. "Even that deal hasn't achieved what it was supposed to achieve."

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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