Manitoba caps pharmacy dispensing fees for public drug program

The fee cap is expected to save the provincial plan millions every year

Manitoba caps pharmacy dispensing fees for public drug program
A new cap on pharmacy dispensing fees has been applied to drugs purchased under Manitoba’s provincial drug program.

Effective Aug. 18, dispensing fees are capped at $30 per prescription, reported CBC News. Caps have also been placed on compounding fees, amounting to $30 for non-sterile preparation and a maximum of $60 for sterile preparations.

Previously, pharmacies would decide on the dispensing fees for prescriptions they filled. The fees differed among the province’s pharmacies, which would base their determinations on overhead costs, profit margins, and market conditions.

The provincial plan is expected to save $11 million yearly because of the new cap. Pharmacists Manitoba said it’s too soon to assess how the change will impact businesses or patients.

“It is too early to speculate on what the impact of the changes may be, but in some instances patients may pay a fee where they did not previously,” Dr. Brenna Shearer, a representative of Pharmacists Manitoba, said in an email to the news outlet.

The cap only applies to prescriptions billed to Manitoba’s drug program; any outstanding portion of the fees should be covered by patients who use the program. Patients are being encouraged to talk with their doctors about the possible impact the changes will have on them, as well as to shop around for pharmacies that may offer better pricing.

According to CBC News, exceptions may be made for situations that require complex dispensing services. The province will take note of feedback from pharmacists over the next few months; a grace period will also be extended for pharmacies to change their billing practices.

Roughly 97% of dispensing fees on provincial drug program claims fall below $30, according to the provincial website of Manitoba. However, the other 3% of cases include instances wherein dispensing fees surpassed $900.

The province of Manitoba covered more than $52 million in dispensing and compounding fees during the 2017-17 fiscal year. During that time, over 90,000 prescriptions billed to the program had dispensing fees that exceeded $30 each; those cases amounted to $11.7 million in expenses for the province.

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