By Jensen, Randy on May 30, 2020.
While 30-day prescription limits will remain in place in Alberta for the near future, the provincial government is open to revisiting the issue with the Alberta College of Pharmacy and the Alberta Pharmacists’ Association (RxA) when the time is right, says Tom McMillan, a spokesperson for Alberta Health.
“While we are beginning to reopen Alberta, the issue of global drug shortages remains a concern for our province,” says McMillan in a statement released to The Herald on Friday. “We will consider changes to this (30-day) approach when it is safe to do so, but we are not there yet. Our priority is to continue monitoring Alberta’s drug supply to ensure that all Albertans and frontline health-care workers can access the prescription drugs they need.”
In another statement released to The Herald on Thursday the Alberta College of Pharmacy agrees the 30-day limit remains appropriate for now in this province, despite what other provinces may decide, stating the “the recommendation is in place to stabilize Alberta’s drug supply in an effort to ensure all patients have access to the medicine they need during the pandemic.”
The College confirms individual pharmacies do have some discretion in the matter and may choose, under exceptional circumstances, to allow for longer-term prescriptions.
“For patients with unique or exceptional circumstances,” it reads, “such as limited access to pharmacy services in rural and remote locations, pharmacists may use their judgment to determine whether these patients require a supply of medications greater than 30 days. Pharmacists must carefully consider dispensing more than a 30-day supply and document the rationale for their decision.”
When asked why Alberta has this position when other provinces are beginning to allow 90-day prescription limits again for certain drugs, and why other provincial policies seem to be at odds with one another, the College states that “each provincial jurisdiction has its own unique process for determining limits for prescriptions.”
It refers any follow-up questions on the subject to Alberta Health.
McMillan acknowledges it is Alberta Health’s current suggested guidance for the College of Pharmacy to retain 30-day prescription limits on all drugs where exceptional circumstances do not exist.
“The 30-day guidance provides a means of stabilizing the drug supply in Alberta while still allowing individuals to receive the medications they need,” he says. “Pharmacists continue to work hard on the front lines and need our support. For now, to manage supply in the event of disruptions in the global supply chain, the 30-day limit remains appropriate.”
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