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.