Manulife to cover specialty drugs sold at any pharmacy following backlash over Loblaw deal

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Manulife will cover specialty medications dispensed at any pharmacy, the insurance company announced Monday, reversing its decision to cover only medications dispensed at Loblaw-owned pharmacies less than a week after announcing the exclusivity agreement.

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

“This decision ensures Canadians have choice, access and flexibility in managing their health,” the website reads in the question-and-answer portion of its press release.

It added that the change would come into effect “quickly” and further updates would be posted on its website.

Members with specialty medication prescriptions can still receive their medications at Bayshore and Loblaw owned pharmacies. Home delivery will remain an option.

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

The initial deal first reported by The Canadian Press would have affected about 260 drugs under the insurance company’s specialty drug care program, intended to treat complex, chronic or life-threatening conditions.

That sparked backlash from customers, drug policy experts and independent pharmacists, who said the plan — known as a preferred pharmacy network — would degrade the quality of pharmaceutical care patients receive.

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

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