Find out which pharmacy has the lowest dispensing fee

Want to save money on your meds? Here’s a breakdown of the dispensing fees across major Canadian pharmacies.


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Quitting full-time work and starting my own company was the best thing I ever did – but it was a rude awakening on a number of fronts, not the least of which was a total lack of drug coverage. It’s not a huge problem if you don’t take regular medications, but once your doc slaps you with a prescription, you’ve got to cover the full costs out of your own pocket.

One of my biggest pharmacy costs is the drug I take to keep asthma attacks at bay, Advair. It works but, man, is it expensive. I usually end up shelling out well over $100 at my local grocery store pharmacy. The cost is so high in fact that I recently called around to see if I could get it cheaper somewhere else.

Last week, I phoned five major pharmacies in the Toronto area and was very surprised to see how the cost varied from store to store. The big factor wasn’t the cost of the medication – it was the dispensing fee. Here’s what I found by calling just five stores.

Dispensing fees by store

1. Shopper’s Drug Mart – $11.99

2. Loblaw’s Pharmacy – $10.49

3. Rexall – $11.99

4. Costco – $3.89

5. Target – $9.99 (with an offer to take it down to $7.99)

Clearly Costco was the winner for low prices by a huge margin (it meant I could actually buy my Advair for under $100). Target at least offered to lower their price for me when I told him I was looking for a cheaper place to buy this expensive drug – he offered to charge me $7.99 instead of their regular $9.99 fee (hats off to Target’s pharmacist for the nice gesture). As for why dispensing fees vary so much from pharmacy to pharmacy, I am no expert. But I did learn one thing: it’s a great idea to shop around and find a lower price when it comes to purchasing your meds.

Know of pharmacies in your area that have low dispensing fees? Share in the comments below!

Money expert Caroline Cakebread has been writing for since 2006. She is a recovering academic and the mother of two small kids. She lives in Toronto where she writes and reads about all things financial. Follow Caroline at

16 comments on “Find out which pharmacy has the lowest dispensing fee

  1. London Drugs in the Metro Vancouver area charges a dispensing fee of $9.60


  2. it is pretty sad when a so called Money Expert, does not do her research well, so the fact that the dispensing fee is lower by $5.00 or $6.00 does not make that much difference, Most brand name puffer i.e. Advair are still very expensive, & that the price is not set by the pharmacy but by the manufacturer. Under $100.00? by how much?…………….


  3. That is very misleading information, because it does not tell you drug cost, for example (as of March, 2014 1 pill of viagra would cost $10.43 in safeway and $9.93 in walmart and $11.29 in shoppers, so you should not really care about the difference in dispensing fee esp for expensive drugs, imagine if your buying 12 pills of viagra, the difference in the drug cost could be as much as $16. One more thing is the service for example in Costco you have to wait long time before you can get your prescription filled and most likely would not be able to see a pharmacist if you have any questions or concerns so you get what you pay for.
    source: I am a pharmacist that works around different stores.


    • Why are you saying the article was misleading and that they didn’t factor in drug cost. The title says which has the “lowest dispensing fee” – not drug cost. It matters because many employer health plans cover the drug cost, but only up to a certain value in dispensing fee. If you want to see a cost comparison of drug costs, read another article that actually has something to do with that.


  4. Erin centre Pharmacy , located at unit 16 -2555 Erin Centre Blvd , Mississauga , Ontario ,


  5. If you are 65 and older your dispensing fee at Costco London, Ont will be $1.89. Oh and as for the price of drugs, I did my very last purchase at Rexall and then went to Costco, because they wouldn’t reduce their dispensing fee and found out the same prescription at Costco was $20 cheaper. Shame on you Rexall, thank you Costco.


  6. Theres a pharmacy in vancouver that doesn’t charge any dispensing fee, Its called Costless Pharmacy. They are selling their medications at wholesale cost and no mark ups. I don’t know exactly how they can making any money but they are licensed pharmacy and have the BBB approved sticker on their advertisenments. .


  7. London drug charged me $9.60 in addition to the cost $7.24 for the medicine.(put 90 pills in a small jar is difficult I admit that) More then what the medicine cost!! I just read an article about Canadian Gouv getting the cost down by almost half but of course forgot to insure our pharmacist are not adding huge amounts on top of the actual price. So the cost is the same for us in the end & companies are still getting more money/profits!


  8. I get my prescriptions filled at the walk-in clinic drug store – here it’s called Central Drug Mart, located at our Station Mall. Dispensing fee is only $8.40. While this is all well and good and cheaper, I totally disagree with dispensing fees. The workers already get paid to dispense, consult etc., that’s what they were hired for. Why do we pay them again to do the job for which they were hired for?


  9. I have a webpage on this exact subject matter and I got to tell you, this is certainly great stuff. It’s given me several additional ideas for my material that I would never have considered. The person who wrote this is doing an outstanding job.


  10. Flawed article. Costco dispense fee is low but the drug costs are the same as the others. Where its goign to really cost you is TIME. Minimum 45 minutes to fill a prescription at Costco. Plus they are a Walmart style pharmacy. Long wait, disgruntled staff.


  11. FreshCo Pharmacy’s, at Vic Park and Gerard, regular dispensing fee is $8.83.


  12. Having worked at a pharmacy for 15 years, I can tell you that the dispensing fee is not the only factor to consider. The pharmacies do mark up the price of the actual medication itself, and the markup can widely vary. You would be best to get a price quote for the actual medication including the fee, not just the fee alone. You will find that some pharmacies hide behind a lower fee and markup their medication much higher than you think.


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