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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 Canadian province of Ontario have been granted the right to administer flu shots, renew prescriptions and perform other healthcare services that could help offset revenue lost through provincial curbs on generic drug prices.

The changes, announced on Tuesday on an Ontario government news site, could benefit Shoppers Drug Mart Corp and other chains which have lobbied for a greater role in the province's publicly funded healthcare system.

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

In recent years, new provincial curbs on prices and reimbursement rules for generic drugs has held back prescription revenue growth at Shoppers and rivals such as Quebec-based Jean Coutu Group Inc . New services could boost earnings over the long run.

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

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

The province has not promised to pay for any of the other new services. Negotiating more payments is a priority, Darby said: "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 small fee for the services, though not for flu shots.

Under the new regulations, pharmacists can prescribe drugs to help patients quit smoking, demonstrate the use of blood glucose monitors, or show them how to inject themselves with substances like vitamin B12 by administering the first dose.

(Reporting by Allison Martell; Editing by Bernard Orr)

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

Keywords: SHOPPERSDRUGMART SERVICES/