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Infographic: The problems with prescriptions

Issue 1 - The rebates

Issue 2 - The loyalty points

Drug companies send rebates back to pharmacies that move their generic pills. It is a huge part of pharmacy income, but is set to drop as governments lower the cap on what drug companies can charge for their pills. Pharmacists say they'll be forced to lay off staff. When governments or insurance companies pay for a prescription (or most of it), some stores hand out loyalty points - Optimum, Air Miles, etc. - on the full value, not just what patients pay. Pharmacists say this leaves taxpayers subsidizing the loyalty programs and can encourage abuse of the system, with patients getting prescriptions filled that they don't need.

The Provincial Breakdown

Each province gives its pharmacists different powers, but all have moved in recent years to expand what pharmacists do. Alberta made changes this month that will, beginning later this year, offer a $20 prescription renewal fee to encourage pharmacists to renew routine prescriptions (not narcotics, such as Ritalin and OxyContin).

Graphics by Trish McAlaster/Adapted by Stuart A. Thompson

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