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A new policy that has pharmacists restricting patients to a 30-day supply of their medications means some people are having to pay dispensing fees two or three times over.

The policy was put in place to prevent drug shortages while manufacturers struggle to produce enough product during COVID-19.

But that means patients who would normally receive 90-days’ worth of prescription medications are now paying the dispensing fee three times instead of one in some provinces.

“All of a sudden they’re going to see their cost for prescriptions go up 200 per cent,” said Kathleen Finlay, the founder of the Center for Patient Protection.

In most places, those dispensing fees are between $5 and $15. But some people have multiple prescriptions, multiplying the cost, she said.

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“It gets up there really quickly,” she said.

She’s particularly concerned about fixed income seniors, who are being hit with these costs out of the blue. She said some people may be faced with tough decisions about whether they can afford to renew their prescriptions when they need them.

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Some provinces, like Alberta, have adjusted their co-pay structure for seniors and those without private insurance to offset those costs, but not all.

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