Private label drugs, anyone?


There's a chance shoppers in Ontario may be able to buy drugstores' private label drugs in the future after all.

A written Ontario court ruling could permit drug chains in the province to sell their own private label prescription drugs. Currently, a provincial government regulation prevents drugstores from substituting their own discount brand drugs in place of national brands. It was part of the change that took place around Ontario's reforms surrounding reducing the cost of drugs.


The new ruling challenges said ban, which Ontario Superior Court of Justice Divisional Court judges Larry Whalen, Anne Molloy and Katherine Swinton said in a CBC News story "interferes with the right to trade and commercial freedom, without specific authority to do so."

The CBC story noted the ruling doesn't stop chains from selling no-name generic versions of drugs.

A Shoppers Drug Mart spokesperson said that with all parties reviewing the ruling, the company is not currently commenting on the matter.

Brian Yarbrough, an Edward Jones retail analyst quoted in the CBC story, said "I definitely think it is positive, because other pharmacies have wanted to pursue the same avenue because they are all being pressured with this new drug plan, and so one of the ways to get around it is generic drugs. It will probably be some potential for lower costs for consumers."

Still, it's early days for the ruling. It would be premature to call the decision a win for Shoppers and other drugstores since the decision may be appealed by Ontario's Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

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