Manitoba Government Introduces Cap on Dispensing Fees for Provincial Drug Programs

Changes to Ensure Reasonable Costs For Pharmacy Services: Goertzen

The Manitoba government will introduce a cap on dispensing fees to help reduce costs for patients and the provincial drug plan, and ensure pharmacies remain able to recover costs associated with dispensing drugs, Health, Seniors and Active Living Minister Kelvin Goertzen announced today.

“When pharmacists fill a prescription, they charge what is known as a dispensing or professional fee to cover costs of storing and preparing medication, as well as providing services to clients,” said Goertzen. “As in other provinces and territories that have a cap on these fees, pharmacies will be able to recover costs for providing services, with reduced costs for patients and programs that are paying for prescriptions.”

In Manitoba, pharmacies can charge a professional fee of their own choice and set prices according to factors such as overhead costs, profit margins and market dynamics. As dispensing fees vary from pharmacy to pharmacy, they can be a significant cost for patients and provincial drug programs such as the Manitoba Pharmacare Program, the Palliative Care Drug Access Program and the Home Cancer Drug Program.

“In Manitoba, approximately 97 per cent of dispensing fees on pharmacare claims are less than $30. However, about three per cent of fees are more than $30 and in some cases, exceed $900,” said Goertzen. “Careful consideration was given to these changes and Manitoba is now more in line with fees in other provinces.”

Effective Aug. 18, Manitoba will be introducing a cap on dispensing fees, the minister said, noting that pharmacies will be able to:

  • charge provincial drug programs no more than $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);
  • charge pharmacare no more than $30 for compounding services in a pharmacy (when medicinal ingredients are mixed and prepared to meet an individual patient’s clinical needs); and
  • charge pharmacare no more than $60 in cases where drugs need to be compounded in sterile conditions.

Additionally, pharmacare will only consider a compounded drug an eligible benefit if the main ingredient in the preparation is a pharmacare benefit.

Changes will also encourage pharmacists to minimize the number of times a prescription is dispensed for medications used to treat selected chronic diseases. For example, by dispensing a three-month supply instead of just one month, Manitobans will be charged fewer dispensing fees.

In 2016-17, Manitoba spent $54.9 million on dispensing fees through pharmacare, representing approximately 22 per cent of prescription drug costs to provincial drug programs. Last year, the province spent more than $9 million on fees greater than $30, which is 16 per cent of the Manitoba Pharmacare program budget. The changes are expected to save an estimated $11 million annually, the minister noted.

For more information on the changes to dispensing fees, visit:

Health professionals can access additional information at:

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