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Ontario pharmacies allowed to expand medical services

* Ontario pharmacists now allowed to renew prescriptions

* Government will pay C$7.50 per patient for flu shots

* Industry association to push for other payments

* Despite lobbying, new services have lagged drug price cuts

TORONTO, Oct 9 (Reuters) - Pharmacists in the Canadianprovince of Ontario have been granted the right to administerflu shots, renew prescriptions and perform other healthcareservices that could help offset revenue lost through provincialcurbs on generic drug prices.

The changes, announced on Tuesday on an Ontario governmentnews site, could benefit Shoppers Drug Mart Corp andother chains which have lobbied for a greater role in theprovince's publicly funded healthcare system.

"It's been a struggle to get it moved forward, theimplementation, so we're very pleased," said Dennis Darby, chiefexecutive of the Ontario Pharmacists' Association.

In recent years, new provincial curbs on prices andreimbursement rules for generic drugs has held back prescriptionrevenue growth at Shoppers and rivals such as Quebec-based JeanCoutu Group Inc . New services could boost earningsover the long run.

Ontario has agreed to pay pharmacies C$7.50 for every flushot administered, which Darby says will roughly cover costs.The vaccine itself is free, thanks to a provincial program thatpays for flu shots for all residents.

In a release, Shoppers said it would run flu clinics in morethan 460 stores starting Oct. 15. Ontario is its biggest market.But Darby said pharmacies will only have access to 100,000 dosesin the first year of the program.

The province has not promised to pay for any of the othernew services. Negotiating more payments is a priority, Darbysaid: "I'm very hopeful."

Asked whether the government might consider more payments,government spokeswoman Zita Astravas said, "not at this time."She noted that pharmacies are allowed to charge patients a smallfee for the services, though not for flu shots.

Under the new regulations, pharmacists can prescribe drugsto help patients quit smoking, demonstrate the use of bloodglucose monitors, or show them how to inject themselves withsubstances like vitamin B12 by administering the first dose.

(Reporting by Allison Martell; Editing by Bernard Orr)

((allison.martell@thomsonreuters.com)(+1 416 941 8196)(ReutersMessaging: allison.martell.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

Keywords: SHOPPERSDRUGMART SERVICES/