Sep 10, 2016

By Bob Sheppard

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For residents of Ontario nursing homes, the amount paid to dispense their prescription drugs is more than the cost of the drugs.

That’s according to a Toronto Star investigation that found it cost over one billion-dollars in fees over the last five years to dispense 800 million-dollars in drugs to residents of the province’s long-term-care facilities.

The fees are paid to pharmacies that have exclusive deals with the nursing homes. Residents and taxpayers pay the fees.

The Star report cites two reasons the fees are much higher than if the senior was living at home and simply getting their drugs from their local pharmacy.

First, pharmacies with a monopoly with the residences fill prescriptions weekly, rather than monthly, and therefore charge four times the dispensing fee per month,

Health Minister Dr. Eric Hoskins says it’s because there are frequent changes to seniors’ prescriptions, but critics say many seniors have the same prescription each week.

And second, many pharmacies charge a 2 dollar co-payment fee for nursing home prescriptions, a fee that’s been dropped for many seniors living at home who deal with their local drug stores.

Over the last five years the 2-dollar co-payment fees have added up to 250 million-dollars for the pharmacies.

Pharmacies have the right to charge or not charge the fee.

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