Drug dispensing fees could increase under new deal

Ryan Ross
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Islanders who need prescriptions filled should shop around after the government's new deal with pharmacies allowed for an increase in dispensing fees.

Islanders who need prescriptions filled should shop around after the government's new deal with pharmacies allowed for an increase in dispensing fees.

Health Minister Doug Currie said the government sets the maximum amount pharmacies can charge in dispensing fees, but those fees can vary as long as they are below the ceiling.

"The consumer, who's at the other side of the counter, has the choice," he said.

The change came after the government brought in legislation to reduce the amount it paid for generic drugs for public programs.

That reduction also meant pharmacies won't get the same rebates they used to from pharmaceutical companies.

Currie said the government wanted to invest in pharmacies after the loss in revenues from the generic drug rebates.

"They're a very important health care provider," he said.

The change came after the government recently announced its new pharmacy services agreement.

That agreement included a switch from 30 day supplies for some drugs to a 90 day supply so patients have to pay the dispensing fee less often.

Currie said a working group is looking at potential changes to what pharmacists are allowed to do so they can work to their full scope of practice.

The group will work on it through the winter because legislative changes could be necessary for that to happen, he said.

"They provide a very important service and I think there's a huge opportunity to continue to expand on their scope of practice."

Currie said the senior drug program will offset some of the increase to dispensing fees for some Islanders.

The change in the refill period for some drugs means there will be lost revenues because dispensing fees won't be charged as often, but Currie said that was part of the reason for a re-investment in pharmacies.

"That was all part of the negotiation," he said.

In an email from Erin MacKenzie, the P.E.I. Pharmacists Association's executive director, she said savings through the generic drug changes have been partially realigned.

"In essence an increased allowable dispensing fee is a move toward a truer cost to dispense."

MacKenzie also said the pharmacists look forward to finalizing the eligibility criteria for reimbursable professional services.



Organizations: P.E.I. Pharmacists Association

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Recent comments

  • Pharmacists are Undervalued
    October 06, 2012 - 18:38

    I agree with the previous writer's statement that pharmacists are underused and undervalued. I have always found them to be more knowledgeable than physicians when it comes to medications, medication interactions, how to take them most effectively etc. etc. They have the time and knowledge to answer any question I have ever had and they are so professional! Keep up the great work, Island Pharmacists!

  • Ashley
    October 06, 2012 - 13:49

    I think The Guardian should reconsider their opening statement for this article. Recommending that Islanders should "shop around" is the worst possible thing for the patient. Jumping around to whatever pharmacy has the cheapest dispensing fee at the time increases your risk of (potentially very serious) drug interactions. If you are at a pharmacy where you receive a level of service that meets your needs and you have an established relationship with the staff you should stay where you are. These pharmacists have all of your medications on file in one place and can assess each new prescription that comes in for drug interactions. Instead of worrying about saving a couple bucks worry about who's going to save your life when a fatal drug interaction gets caught by your pharmacist.

  • Rose Hicken
    October 06, 2012 - 12:29

    There are alot of us who cannot afford to pay for a 90 day supply of a prescription. Anyone, who is on many drugs and has no insurance will now have to pay even more for their medication. Thanks once again Mr. Currie.

  • Bill Kays
    Bill Kays
    October 06, 2012 - 07:56

    I know of many seniors and low income people that this is going to hurt. The pharmacy dispensing business are currently being over in my opinion. The argument by Currie that "the government wanted to invest in pharmacies after the loss in revenues from the generic drug rebates" holds no merit. If you take the savings from one hand and increase fees on the other hand it equals no savings at all. No wonder we are in the trouble we are with people like this making decisions for us. IT IS COUNTER PRODUCTIVE. Let's use common sense instead of commerce sense especially since this "commerce sense" makes no sense at all if there are no ultimate savings to the province or the consumer.

  • Shellie
    October 05, 2012 - 22:34

    When we're at our Summer Home in the Mahone Bay aka Mahoe Bay area of Lunenburg aka Loonieburg County LOL of Nova Scotia, We buy Our Meds at the Super Store Pharmacy which has the lowest dispensing cost PLUS recieve those great Money Off Coupons in Bridgewater aka Bilgewater N.S.

  • PEI Pharmacist
    October 05, 2012 - 22:34

    It would be nice if the writed here knew the difference between a "professional" or "dispensing" fee and a copay. The new agreement allowed for the possibility of pharmacies charging a higher dispensing fee and subsequently (and at the last minute) also added a copay cap to what pharmacies can charge on the seniors drug plan. The unreported part of this is that pharmacies formerly had latitude to discount their copay's as they saw fit. This allowed for competition based on price and benefited consumers. The gvmt disallowed this practice which has caused the price to go up for many prescriptions at the pharmacy; most notably insulin which has seen almost a 50% increase in price at some stores. My question is if the increased dispensing fee allowed is moving "toward" a more realistic recognition of the cost of dispensing...why not move all the way toward what dispensing really costs? The sad answer is that the gvmt undervalues pharmacy services. If only we charged what our services were actually worth in ALL cases people would see how much work goes into providing the level of service pharmacy provides.

  • Frank
    October 05, 2012 - 22:34

    All that is happening here is the government trying to make them seem like they are saving'tax payers' money but pharmacies need to make money to remain in business. If go government cuts them they are forced to pass that on to the end consumer. Hense why we see dispensing fees going up. Great job government. Save tax payers $ so you can spend on new Borden hills and Plan F.

  • Cornwall resident
    October 05, 2012 - 20:34

    Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians are among the most under-utilized of all health care professionals. Glad to see they're looking at changing legislation.

    • Stratford resident
      October 06, 2012 - 09:01

      It would be nice if the dispensing fee was shown on the official receipt as is the cost of the drug.