No need for Manitoba patients to pay specialty dispensing fees, says province

The province has clarified an exemption process available for more specialized compounds

No need for Manitoba patients to pay specialty dispensing fees, says province
The province of Manitoba has issued a clarification to a dispensing fee-cap policy that patients had been told could cost them hundreds of dollars in dispensing fees.

As of Aug. 18, dispensing fees covered by the province’s drug program were capped at $30 per prescription, reported CBC News. Compounding fees for non-sterile preparations were also capped at $30; for sterile preparations, it was $60.

Medications that require special preparation could cost hundreds of dollars in compounding fees. Some patients who need such medicines were initially led to believe that they’d have to pay the excess fees that went over the capped amount mandated by the province.

However on Monday, the province clarified an exemption provision for specialty medications that come with compounding fees over the provincial cap.

“Manitoba Health has recognized that there's a sub-group of people that require these specialized products,” said Gregory Harochaw at Tache Pharmacy.

In July, the pharmacy sent patients letters telling them that they might have to pay additional costs. According to Harochaw, his store was unaware of the exemption process at the time, and has since received clarification. “All the ones that we talked about before, there's nothing coming out of their pocket,” he said, adding that patients were being advised of the process.

According to a spokesperson for the province, the fee-cap program had included the exemption process from the start. “When the announcement about changes to dispensing fees was made in late July, it noted the province would have a process for exceptions. This includes a process for compounds that take greater than 45 minutes or where special approval is required for coverage of non-benefit compound prescriptions,” the spokesperson said in an email to CBC News.

New details about the exemption process, which was developed in consultation with Pharmacists Manitoba and provincial pharmacists who are experts in compounding, have been posted on Manitoba’s provincial website. As part of the process, pharmacies must submit a costing worksheet for specialized compounds that will require special approval.

According to Harochaw, the province should have done better in its early communication. “I think if the provincial government would have had a talk first when they drafted new regulations... I really believe this all could have been avoided,” he said.

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