Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Victoria senior seeks change to "appalling" drug-dispensing fees

From the Vancouver Sun:
Retiree Jennifer Wheeler was confused by the various prices she paid for prescription drugs. So she decided to do a little investigating.

After contacting 10 pharmacies, Wheeler was astonished to discover the dispensing fee -- money charged for preparing a prescription -- ranged from a low of $7.48 at one major retail outlet to a high of $11.60 at another.

"I was a little appalled," said the 74-year-old Victoria woman. "What I hadn't realized was the cost of buying the drug is different from store to store."

Wheeler had stumbled on to a pricing issue pharmacists are at pains to explain.

The fee covers the cost of the service every pharmacist provides when dispensing medicine. But that service is now expanding, as calls upon the health system increase and the population ages.

The provincial Ministry of Health, for example, recently authorized pharmacists to renew routine prescriptions. Under certain conditions, they can even alter them.

Parkash Ragsdale, deputy chief executive officer with the B.C. Pharmacy Association, said the cost of dispensing a drug properly has been estimated at $13.60. ...more

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