The COVID-19 pandemic has put considerable stress on all parts of the health-care system, including pharmacy.
Many patients on regular medications typically get a three-month supply when they go to the pharmacy. Over the last few weeks, many patients have been receiving only 30 days of their medicine. Some patients have raised questions about this temporary measure.
The decision by most pharmacists in B.C. and across Canada to do this is driven by the need to ensure that there is a reliable supply of medications over the next few months for as many patients as possible.
The demand for medications in communities and in hospitals in the last few weeks has risen dramatically. This rapid increase has made it difficult for pharmacies to get the amount of medications they need.
Adding to the uncertainty, it remains unclear whether there will be more than the usual amount of drug shortages in the days and weeks ahead due to supply disruptions overseas.
Dispensing 30 days’ supply of medication is an action pharmacists are taking to ensure as many people as possible can access the medications they need now and in the next few, likely unpredictable, months.
On April 3, British Columbia’s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said she and Minister of Health Adrian Dix were aware that some people are concerned about dispensing fees and government is looking at ways to address the issue for those who need support.
B.C.’s community pharmacists continue to work hard to respond appropriately to the extraordinary challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has presented.
Keith Shaw, PharmD, MBA
President, BC Pharmacy Association