Lupin 2023

SDM will target pro-Rx provinces for growth

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TORONTO — Shoppers Drug Mart (SDM) will seek to expand in British Columbia and other provinces that compensate pharmacies for stepping up their role in the health care system.

President and chief executive officer Jürgen Schreiber stated the company’s view as Ontario mulls regulations that could hurt pharmacy profits.

“We see some provinces that are very progressive,” Schrei­ber told analysts this month. “These are provinces we like to invest in.”

More than half of the nearly 1,200 SDM stores are in Ontario, which is considering cutting rebates to pharmacies from generic drug makers. SDM and other retailers want the province to make up for the loss by remunerating them for such pharmacist services as flu shots and patient counseling.

British Columbia reimburses SDM for providing H1N1 vaccinations, according to senior vice president and treasurer John Caplice.

“There is much more that pharmacy can do as a front-line provider of community-based health care services, provided [there are] proper levels of reimbursement,” Caplice told The Globe and Mail.

He said SDM pharmacists across Canada “are responding to tens of thousands of calls from patients — for which there is no reimbursement — who are inquiring about H1N1.”

Analysts have said the Ontario regulations could cut the chain’s earnings by between 20 cents and 35 cents (Canadian) per share. The company this month reported third quarter profit of 79 cents per share, up from 74 cents a year ago and a penny less than what analysts had forecasted.

Schreiber said that it’s premature to gauge the impact of any changes and that talks with provinces are ongoing. But the chain will look to invest in provinces that can ensure earnings gains, he stressed.


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