N.B. pharmacists in conflict-of-interest in crackdown on sales of over-the-counter medications.
Decades old regulations that have never been enforced give pharmacists opportunity to eliminate competition for pharmacies.
HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA (February 22, 2018) New Brunswick pharmacists are in a conflict-of-interest and benefiting from the elimination of competition says the association representing convenience store retailers in New Brunswick.
The issue arose when the New Brunswick College of Pharmacists suddenly began to enforce decades old regulations preventing the sale of certain over-the-counter medications in retail outlets other than pharmacies.
“The college says it’s a health and safety concern,” says Mike Hammoud, president of the Atlantic Convenience Stores Association. “But they’ve ignored the regulations for decades and there is no evidence of product misuse linked to sales at non-pharmacy retail outlets such as gas stations and convenience stores.”
According to Hammoud, the college’s restricted list includes low risk products such as Aspirin Low Dose and relief products such as Advil Cold & Sinus, Benadryl, Polysporin Eye and Ear drops, and Tylenol Back Pain.
“Think of it…you’re suffering, or a loved one is suffering…and temporary relief can be found at a convenience store when a pharmacy is closed or you’re miles from the nearest pharmacy.”
College spokesperson Sam Lanctin is on record as saying that consumers need to have the opportunity for consultation with a trained professional. But Hammoud thinks that that’s a smokescreen for eliminating competition and giving pharmacies a larger market share.
“The college is really in a conflict-of-interest here,” says Hammoud. “I can easily buy these products off-the-shelf at most any pharmacy without any need or encouragement to consult with a pharmacist. I can even buy these products online with no controls at all.”
Hammoud also points out that product packaging has detailed information on use and consumer information telephone numbers, and that these medications are typically stored behind-the-counter in convenience stores, so customers have to ask for them.
Convenience retailers are disappointed that the college suddenly began to enforce the regulations without any consultation after years of ignoring them. The regulations are governed by the provincial government and Hammoud says that the association will be contacting government officials about the college’s actions.
“We’re all concerned about health and safety. But there also needs to be some common sense here and the decisions about what to restrict or not restrict need to be made by someone who isn’t in a conflict-of-interest like the college is.”
Mike Hammoud, President
Atlantic Convenience Stores Association