Manulife expands pharmacy choices

Specialty medication access broadened for Canadians, following public backlash

Manulife expands pharmacy choices

According to a statement from Manulife Financial Corp., Canadians who rely on specialty medications for serious, chronic, and potentially life-threatening conditions will now have the flexibility to fill their prescriptions at any pharmacy of their choice.  

This policy update comes as a response to customer feedback and public concern, ensuring that patients have not only the option for home delivery but also the freedom to choose their pharmacy. Manulife promises swift implementation of these changes, with more details to be shared on their website.   

Naveed Irshad, president and CEO of Manulife Canada, in an article by, articulated the company's dedication to simplifying decisions and enhancing lives, acknowledging the significance of the feedback received over the past week.  

Irshad highlighted that the update impacts a small segment of their clientele—specifically, those enrolled in the Specialty Drug Care program, which represents less than one percent of the Canadians they support.  

This policy revision, despite its limited scope, is crucial for providing Canadians under Manulife's care with greater choice, access, and flexibility in health management. It aligns with Manulife's mission to partner with a vast network of pharmacies and strengthen the Canadian healthcare system

 The policy change was prompted by backlash following Manulife's announcement of an exclusive arrangement with Loblaw Cos. Ltd., which had designated Shoppers Drug Mart and other Loblaw-owned pharmacies as the primary outlets for filling specialty drug prescriptions.  

As reported by The Canadian Press, this exclusive deal led to public outcry, compelling Manulife to reassess its strategy and ensure wider access to specialty medications across any pharmacy. This move is seen as a direct response to the concerns over the need for increased competition in the pharmacy sector, a sentiment echoed by Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne. 

Champagne criticized the exclusive deal for its potential to stifle competition, underscoring the importance of maintaining a competitive landscape in healthcare services. 

  Manulife's specialty drug program, which covers approximately 260 medications for treating various complex conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease, multiple sclerosis, and cancer, is at the heart of this policy update.  

By allowing specialty drugs to be covered at any pharmacy, Manulife is responding to consumer demands for more accessible and flexible healthcare options, as detailed in the Canadian Press report.