The P.E.I. government has signed a new Pharmacy Services Agreement, which may increase the amount of money pharmacies can charge for dispensing fees.

The move follows new rules brought in this summer that cap how much pharmacies can charge for generic drugs in the province — a move that resulted in a loss of revenue for pharmacies.

This new agreement is designed to help offset some of those losses.

In addition, a working group has been formed to look at provincial compensation that should be paid to pharmacists for other services they provide, such as medication reviews and medication management.

The goal is to have that compensation in place by April of 2013.

Erin MacKenzie, the executive director of the Prince Edward Island Pharmacists Association, said her organization is trying to keep Island pharmacies in business.

"This agreement is looking at a way to more accurately reflect the cost of doing business to dispense medication," she said.  

"Our goal, as a pharmacy association, was to ensure continued access to pharmacy services from one tip of the Island to the other — that is, making sure pharmacies remain viable so that they can keep their doors open."   

The dispensing fee ceiling goes up a few dollars under the new agreement. It will be up to individual pharmacies to decide how much to charge.

Provincial officials said measures are being taken to offset the increases for some seniors under provincial programs.

The agreement also provides for more maintenance drugs to be dispensed for a 90-day period as opposed to a refill every 30 days. But, officials said, the refill period still depends on the individual patient.