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How to save your money and time when filling prescriptions

Are you taking or planning on taking a drug for a chronic medical condition such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, ulcers or acid reflux, or a drug prescribed for a long term such as oral contraceptives? If so, by changing the way the pharmacy fills your prescriptions, you may be able to save some money.

What does a prescription cost?

When the pharmacist fills your prescriptions, the pharmacy charges you for the cost of the drug and a dispensing fee. This fee varies by pharmacy and is a charge for filling the prescription. In Canada, dispensing fees can range anywhere from $4 to $16 for each prescription you fill. This fee represents up to one third of the average prescription cost.1

For example, if you are prescribed the same drug on an ongoing basis and have your prescription filled once a month, over the course of a one-year period, you would have paid 12 dispensing fees. This amount adds up over time.

Some provincial benefits plans may include a drug dispensing fee maximum which encourages members to fill their prescriptions every three months, instead of monthly, when the drug prescribed is for long-term use.

Details of your drug coverage and drug dispensing fee maximums can be found in your benefits booklet. To view your benefits booklet, visit and select your plan from the drop-down menu to log in.


Once logged in you can also check out My drug plan, a personalized online tool that’s quick and easy for you to use on your computer, tablet or favourite mobile device. Whether at the doctor’s office, pharmacy or at home, you will be able to get answers to many drug plan questions, right at your fingertips.


Communicate with your doctor or pharmacist to get started on a three-month supply

Tell your doctor(s) and/or your pharmacist(s) that your drug plan limits the number of dispensing fees for maintenance drugs, where it’s reasonable to have a three-month supply dispensed. Many physicians are used to dispensing a standard quantity of a drug and haven’t considered writing a prescription for a larger quantity; many are simply not aware of what their patient’s drug plans cover. Only through a conversation can your doctor and/or pharmacist become better informed. You are strongly encouraged to ask questions and let them know of any limitations within your drug plan. If the drug is one where it is not reasonable to dispense larger supplies they will let you know. It is always worth asking.

If you’re trying a prescription medication for the first time for the treatment of an ongoing medical condition, it’s wise to wait before requesting more than a one-month supply of the drug. It’s important to get a sense for a drug’s effectiveness and your reaction to a new drug before having a three-month supply dispensed.

If you have any questions regarding your drug coverage, please contact OTIP Benefits Services at 1-866-783-6847.

(Save money with the Limited Number of Dispensing Fees Program, Manulife GC2627E, 03/16)

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