The cost of prescription drugs and what it consists of:
With the increasing cost of health services, it is now more important than ever for employees to be aware the cost of prescription drugs.
The cost of prescription drugs is made up of:
- The Drug Ingredient Cost is the amount a pharmacist pays to buy the drug.
- A Pharmacy Mark-Up refers to any additional amount a pharmacist may charge for a drug, above the original drug cost. The mark-up is applied to help pay for the costs of running the pharmacy.
- A Dispensing Fee is the professional fee a pharmacist charges to fill your prescription.
The pharmacists are free to set their own prices for the services they offer and they are not required to provide a breakdown of these amounts on your receipt.
In most of Canada, pharmacists publish their dispensing fees but not their mark-ups. In Quebec, they don’t publish either.
In other words, you may come across different prices at different pharmacies for the same medication.
A few tips on how to find the most competitive prices:
1. Shop around
Visit a few pharmacies in your neighborhood and bring a list of all your medications. You will notice the differences in the prices being charged for the same medications – even within the same chain of pharmacies.
2. Request a 3-month supply
If you buy the same prescription drug monthly for conditions such as a high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, oral contraceptives, or diabetes, ask your pharmacist for a 3-month supply instead of getting a monthly renewal. There can be an economy in the dispensing fees being charged by the pharmacist once instead of being charged every time a prescription is purchased.
Pharmacies 2.0: Mail-Order Pharmacies
The internet has enabled consumers to gain an advantage when choosing goods and services. Pharmacies have aligned themselves to meet this demand.
Mail-Order pharmacies fill and deliver prescriptions to the customer’s doorstep, within 24 to 48 hours.
From the comfort of your home, you can order and renew your maintenance prescription drugs online or by calling. Maintenance medications are those that a doctor has prescribed for regular use for chronic conditions, such as diabetes, cholesterol, asthma, and high blood pressure.
Mail-Order pharmacies have established themselves in the U.S., but are now gaining popularity in Canada. In Quebec, there are at least two established pharmacies of this type: Picard & Desjardins Pharmacy and Hazboun & Menhem XPresspharm Pharmacy.
What are the benefits?
The price of your medication can vary from one pharmacy to the other. They claim cost savings in the dispensing fee (fee charged by pharmacists for their services) and transparency in the actual cost of the medication.
What Picard & Desjardins has additionally put in place is a tool on their website, where you will be able to compare the cost of this medication.