Thu | Jun 30, 2022

NHF hauled to court over unfair pharmacy deals

Published:Monday | May 16, 2022 | 12:10 AMBarbara Gayle/Contributor
Milton Wray
Milton Wray

Businessman and former retail pharmacy owner Milton Wray has brought a claim in the Supreme Court in which he is contending that the National Health Fund (NHF) breached the Fair Competition Act. The challenge is anchored on criticism of the Public...

Businessman and former retail pharmacy owner Milton Wray has brought a claim in the Supreme Court in which he is contending that the National Health Fund (NHF) breached the Fair Competition Act.

The challenge is anchored on criticism of the Public Sector Pharmacy Partner programme (PSPP) and the Drug Serv pharmacies, which are blamed for unfairly channelling profits away from private pharmacies.

He is seeking an order that the PSPP and the Jamaica Drug for the Elderly Programme (JADEP) be declared null and void and otherwise be set aside.

Wray alleges that breaches by the NHF caused him to suffer losses, forcing him to close TLC Pharmacy, which he operated from 2008 to 2020.

The NHF, which is the defendant, has been served with the relevant court documents.

Wray is seeking an injunction to restrain the NHF, whether acting in concert, by itself, its servants, or agents, from colluding with select private retail pharmacies and engaging them in anti-competitive practices.

He is seeking an order to bar the defendant from continuing to abuse its position of dominance or economic strength by supplying pharmaceutical goods without charge to members of the public or private retail pharmacies at severe undervalue or at unfair purchase price and from imposing or fixing unfair purchase and sale prices.

Wray is seeking declarations that the NHF has abused its position of dominance or economic strength in the supply and distribution of pharmaceutical goods by impeding the maintenance or development of effective competition in the market.

Wray contends that the NHF’s conduct has effectively eliminated him from the market permanently, and it would be difficult for him to re-enter if the Fund continues to operate without constraints.

The actions and conduct of the defendant, Wray alleges, have been calculated to make a profit for partner pharmacies to the detriment of his and other retail pharmacies.

Wray is seeking damages, which include statutory damages and an account of the revenues obtained or extracted from the market by virtue of the defendant’s supply of undervalued goods to customers of private doctors.

The claimant stated, in court documents filed last week by the law firm NEA/LEX, that in or about 2016, the NHF developed a scheme of public-private partnership known as the Public Sector Pharmacy Partner Programme.

The scheme allowed the NHF to enter into agreements with select private retail pharmacies to dispense NHF-owned prescription pharmaceutical goods to patients of public-health facilities at fixed prices.

According to the claimant, the NHF, through the Drug Serv pharmacies which it manages, has enjoyed high volumes of transactions.

The claimant stated that because of schemes instituted by the PSPP, JADEP, and “the supply of free and undervalued goods, his revenue has seen drastic decline and began to haemorrhage until he had to close his business as it became insolvent”.

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