Understanding prescription drug costs


The total cost of a prescription drug claim is made up of a number of components:

1. The actual cost the pharmacy paid to buy the drug


2. The pharmacy’s markup to cover the expenses involved in running a pharmacy


3. The dispensing fee or professional fee charged by the pharmacist to dispense drugs and provide patient counseling


Pharmacies are free to set the dispensing fee they charge, provided it does not exceed provincial pharmacare maximums, where applicable. As a result, dispensing fees can vary widely between pharmacy chains and even among pharmacies in the same chain. With the exception of a few provinces, pharmacies are not required to outline their dispensing fee on the prescription receipt, which can make it difficult for patients to know what they’re paying.


Controlling prescription drug costs

The Co-operators applies reasonable and customary dispensing fees* to help protect your plan from unusually high dispensing fees. A reasonable and customary dispensing fee is the maximum dispensing fee The Co-operators will reimburse in each province. They help to keep your Extended Health Care premiums down.


Understanding prescription drug costs

Reasonable and customary dispensing fees may impact how your prescription drug claims are reimbursed. There are things you can do to help control plan costs associated with prescription drug dispensing fees and minimize your out-of-pocket costs.


Ask questions: Do your research and ask your pharmacy about its dispensing fee. Learn about the services included in the fee.


Shop around: Compare pharmacies in your area to find the one that offers the best value for the  dispensing fee it charges.


Think long term: Purchase a 100-day supply of medications you take on a regular and long-term basis, for example, oral contraceptives and medications used to treat high blood pressure. You’ll eliminate the dispensing fees associated with filling these prescriptions monthly and will make fewer trips to the pharmacy. Note: For most drugs, Saskatchewan pharmacists are entitled to charge, but may choose not to charge, a separate dispensing fee for each 34-day-supply prescription filled.


Did you know? Dispensing fees can vary widely between pharmacy chains and even between pharmacies in the same chain.

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