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Northern pharmacies concerned about not getting medications on time from their supplier

As pharmacist Mo Mousa manages his Iroquois Falls store, he tells CTV that deliveries of medication from his distributor, McKesson Canada, have been arriving late for several months.

The company promises next-day delivery at all of the thousands of pharmacies it supplies, which Mousa said held true for his store until recently.

Now, he said deliveries from his distributor often arrive after the store's already closed.

"Leaving the patients frustrated, leaving us frustrated, having to explain everything to the patients,” Mousa said.

“(And) it's jeopardizing their health, putting them at risk of more complications."

Customers like hospital patients and seniors, need their medication quickly.

Out-of-towners drive in or take a taxi, expecting their products, he said, only to be turned away when the delivery doesn’t arrive.

Another Iroquois Falls pharmacist, Ram Rare, tells CTV News that a cancer patient needed a nutritional supplement and had to wait two days to get it, when it was promised to arrive earlier.

"Patients are upset, they don't know what to do because we have only three pharmacies in town and we don't know until the last minute, if you are getting that medication or not,” Ram said.

“Some are understanding, but sometimes it's going beyond the limit."

McKesson Canada supplies medication to over 7,000 pharmacies across the country and owns several of its own retail brands. One of them is I.D.A., which is Rare’s employer’s store banner.

Rare said his manager and those of other area pharmacies have made several attempts to ask McKesson to improve its service.

Our sources say the company delivers to a large area and changed its route over a year ago, which placed Iroquois Falls at the tail end of the delivery line. They tell CTV News the company also pushed its promised delivery times from early to late afternoon.

These pharmacies say reverting back to the prior model or adding another delivery vehicle would solve the issue, but that the company has not budged.

"The response that we're getting - bottom-line, basically - it is what it is, you just have to accept the situation,” said Mousa.

CTV News asked McKesson about its late deliveries and the company cited winter weather-related delays.

In an email, the company told us:

"We assure our customers that our specialized ambient trucks are deployed daily, very early in the morning, to reach their stores in the afternoon and should we detect an issue, we do everything we can to expedite a solution.

We greatly value our customers in the area and understand the inconvenience this may cause. We thank them for their understanding and patience when there is a weather-related delay."

The Iroquois Falls pharmacists said scheduling delivery so close to closing time leaves little room to account for delays.

Already struggling with a shortage of certain medicines, the pharmacists said this is the last problem they should be dealing with right now.

"It's not sustainable,” said Mousa.

We followed up with the company to ask if it would change its approach to delivering its medications in the northeast. It said it would look into our question further, but we have not heard back as of yet.

We also asked the Ontario Pharmacists Association if any other pharmacies in the province have expressed similar concerns; it told us to ask McKesson.

Mousa and Rare are taking this as a lack of knowledge of the needs and challenges of northeastern Ontario and that the company is not taking proper care to ensure that people in the area receive medication when they need it.

They said they cannot stock a large amount of certain medications at once, to compensate for the delivery issues, since they may expire before they’re needed.

"As a pharmacy, we need consistency in supplying medications,” said Rare.

“We have to deliver medications on time to customers, when we promise them … we have to maintain that trust." Top Stories

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