October 21st, 2020

Province to lift rule on 30-day prescription supply


By Jensen, Randy on June 12, 2020.

Herald file photo - A poster in the window of a local pharmacy provides notice to customers regarding a 30-day dispensing limit on prescription drugs.

LETHBRIDGE HERALD

The Province of Alberta has announced that as of Monday, pharmacists can begin to give out larger quantities of prescription drugs again, up to a 100-day supply.

To handle the critical drug supply issues that affected Alberta and the world due to COVID-19, the government recommended pharmacists dispense a maximum 30-day supply of prescription drugs, when appropriate. This made sure pharmacies could supply people with the prescriptions they needed. Because of this temporary measure and the evolving COVID-19 situation, conditions have improved.

“Pharmacists continue to work tirelessly on the front lines, and we thank them for their efforts,” said Alberta Minister of Health Tyler Shandro in a news release. “We are confident that now is the time to adjust our guidance to help Albertans make fewer visits to pharmacies and to support pharmacists in reducing the volume of prescriptions to fill.”

The Alberta College of Pharmacy and the Alberta Pharmacists’ Association support the recommendation and encourage pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to begin to fill prescriptions as they normally would.

“The temporary 30-day medication supply recommendation has certainly helped to stabilize the majority of the drug supply chain. While we understand that some medication shortages continue to exist for certain medications, we are confident that pharmacists will be able to transition patients back to receiving three-month supplies for the majority of their medications where appropriate,” said Margaret Wing, CEO, Alberta Pharmacists’ Association.

While supply levels appear to be returning to normal, some drugs are still in limited supply. Pharmacists are asked to use their professional judgment and dispense a 30-day supply when necessary for specific drugs that continue to have shortages or supply chain issues. Pharmacists can use the drug shortage list posted on the Alberta Blue Cross website as a reference. If a medication dispensed is on the list, government-sponsored drug plan members will pay the maximum copayment of $8.

Government, industry, pharmacy organizations, and other health sector partners continue to monitor supply levels. If there is evidence that there isn’t enough supply, or that drugs are being stockpiled, government could re-introduce limits.

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