Pharmacy chain Jean Coutu Group Inc. says the resumption of talks last week between generic drug makers and the Quebec government is a good sign that a deal can be reached without the province resorting to tendering in order to get cheaper medications.

“It makes sense, [and] I think he could get the same savings by doing so,” chief executive officer Francois Coutu said after the company’s annual meeting.

Quebec Health Minister Gaetan Barrette resumed negotiations with the Association of Generic Drug Manufacturers after saying he would give the industry more time to improve its proposal, adding that his patience has limits.

The province has passed a law and put in place regulations to allow it to launch tenders that could hurt the profitability of Jean Coutu Group’s Pro Doc generic prescription drug subsidiary if the parties fail to reach an agreement.

Read: Quebec drug reform likely to fall short on promised cost savings

Julie White, a spokeswoman for the minister wrote in an email that the negotiations were “still going on positively.”

Jean Coutu Group chief financial officer Andre Belzile said a negotiated agreement is in the best interests of everyone.

“It’s less risky in terms of supply of drugs, avoiding potential shortages going forward,” he told reporters.

“We are very confident that we will come with an agreement.”

Jean Coutu Group said its profits fell seven per cent to $45.5 million, or 25 cents per share, in the first quarter.

The decrease was primarily due to a lower contribution from Pro Doc following the removal of a maximum on professional allowances paid to pharmacists in January.

Read: Quebec move on drug bids ‘one to watch’ as private plans expected to benefit

Copyright © 2017 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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