Health

Manulife will cover specialty drugs filled at any pharmacy following backlash to Loblaw deal

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Manulife will cover specialty drugs filled at any pharmacy, the insurance company said Monday, backtracking on its decision to only cover drugs filled at Loblaw-owned pharmacies less than a week after the exclusivity deal was announced.

Company said it would implement change quickly following public feedback

A flock of birds fly near a Manulife office building.
Signage is seen on Manulife Financial Corp.’s office tower in Toronto on Feb. 11, 2020. Canadian insurance company Manulife has backtracked on a decision to only cover drugs filled at Loblaw-owned pharmacies, less than a week after the exclusivity deal was announced. (Cole Burston/The Canadian Press)

Manulife will cover specialty drugs filled at any pharmacy, the insurance company said Monday, backtracking on its decision to only cover drugs filled at Loblaw-owned pharmacies less than a week after the exclusivity deal was announced.

The company said in a statement posted on its website that it was making the change so quickly because “feedback is deeply rooted in our company’s long-standing history and culture.”

When reached for comment, a spokesperson for Manulife pointed CBC News to the website statement.

The initial deal first reported by The Canadian Press sparked backlash from customers, drug policy experts and independent pharmacists, who said the plan — known as a preferred pharmacy network arrangement — would degrade the quality of pharmaceutical care that patients receive.

Others said the arrangement would be a positive for Canada’s competition landscape and that patients would benefit from lower costs.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jenna Benchetrit is a senior writer with the business content unit at CBC News. She has also covered entertainment and education stories. A Montrealer based in Toronto, Jenna holds a master’s degree in journalism from Toronto Metropolitan University. You can reach her at jenna.benchetrit@cbc.ca.

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