Effective August 18, Manitoba introduced a cap on dispensing fees. Pharmacies will now only be able to charge provincial drug programs up to $30 per prescription, regardless of the base cost of a drug or how a drug is packaged (such as in a pill bottle or blister pack).
Previously, pharmacies had the ability to set their own dispensing fee rates when filling prescriptions. The fee considers overhead costs, profit margins, and market conditions which vary from pharmacy to pharmacy.
But, as of Aug. 18, these costs covered under the provincial drug program are capped at $30 per prescription, compounding fees are also now capped at $30 for non-sterile preparations and no more than $60 for sterile preparations.
Although the change is expected to save the province about $11 million a year, Pharmacists Manitoba says that it is still early to determine how these changes will affect different pharmacies or patients.
Other provinces and territories across Canada have a cap on retail pharmacy dispensing fees, which ensures pharmacies are able to recover costs for providing services, while reducing costs for patients and programs that are paying for prescriptions.
According to the province’s website, approximately 97 per cent of dispensing fees on provincial drug program claims are less than $30, while only three per cent of fees are greater than $30, and in some cases exceed $900.
Manitoba spent over $52 million on dispensing and compounding fees in the 2016-17 fiscal year. The province said over 90,000 prescriptions being billed to the program had dispensing fees over $30, totalling $11.7 million.