March 25 COVID-19 Update

Updated on April 22, 2020 (Originally posted on March 25, 2020)

Joint Statement from Colleges on unproven therapies for COVID-19

On March 25, the College of Pharmacists of BC, the BC College of Nursing Professions and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC issued a joint statement to warn against the use of anti-malarial, antibiotic and antiviral therapies to treat COVID-19 patients.

The Colleges jointly urged health professions to resist pressure around unproven and potentially dangerous uses of existing medications. The Colleges also specifically warned against the use of hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19, as its demand for COVID-19 treatment could result in dangerous consequences for patients who need hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of conditions such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

To read the full joint-statement, please visit the College of Pharmacists website.

Recorded Webinar: COVID-19 exposure in the pharmacy: Protecting the pharmacist and pharmacy staff

Missed our webinar on March 24? See the recording!

At the end of the webinar, participants will be able to:

  • Identify exposure risks in the pharmacy associated with COVID-19
  • Implement controls in the pharmacy to reduce potential exposure to COVID-19
  • Recognize ways to keep yourself protected during the COVID-19 outbreak.

About the Speaker: Saleema Dhalla

Saleema completed her Masters of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene at UBC. She has designed and executed systems at the provincial and national level to reduce workplace injuries and improve employee well-being. Saleema has held three roles at SafeCare BC, the health and safety association which supports healthcare workers in long-term care and home and community care. Her roles include the Director of Workplace Health and Safety Programs and Acting Chief Executive Officer, and most recently the Sr. Director of Development and Strategic Engagements. 

Please Note: A BCPhA account is required to register for this event. If you do not have a login account or if you are unsure if you have a login, please fill out the Account Creation Form and a member of the BCPhA team will contact you. Accounts can be created free of charge with valid College registration.

To access the course:

  1. Click the "Access Course" link below
  2. Click "Start eTraining" to login
  3. Select the "courses" tab
  4. Click on the course "Coronavirus Exposure In The Pharmacy" to begin

Access Course

College weighs in on patients' concerns about emergency supplies dispensing fees

The BC Pharmacy Association is aware that some patients have put forward concerns that 30-day limits on emergency refills could result in patients paying more for their medications, due to dispensing fees incurred for multiple trips.

The College of Pharmacists of BC has put out some advice in response to this question. More information is available at the College's Frequently Asked Questions for COVID-19 page.

My pharmacist is insisting on dispensing only one month of my chronic medication which is resulting in me paying more. Is this allowed?

We are recommending no more than a one-month’s supply for most people in order to help reduce the potential strain on the drug supply chain. However, we would expect pharmacists to use their professional judgment based on each patient’s situation to determine what is appropriate. In particular, for patients with compromised immune systems or who have an increased risk of more severe outcomes from COVID-19 – they may require a longer supply to enable them to safely self-isolate at home.

Under ordinary circumstances, on a yearly prescription someone could, in theory, pay out-of-pocket for amounts over what either PharmaCare or a third-party insurer would reimburse. We are asking pharmacies to not accommodate these requests at this time to help reduce the risk of drugs shortages.

It would ultimately be a business decision with regards to dispensing fees and would be at the discretion of the individual pharmacy.

List of suppliers for see-through barriers at pharmacy counters

The BCPhA has compiled a list of suppliers available to sell physical see-through barriers for pharmacies who are looking for their own solutions to protect the health and safety of their patients and staff.

The list is an ongoing work-in-progress and will be updated with additional vendors as they are identified. Due to the worldwide shortage of personal protective equipment such as masks, many pharmacies are searching for alternative options to meet their needs.

If your pharmacy is aware of additional vendors for physical counter-top barriers and you would like the information to be shared, please contact

To access our resource for suppliers and installers of plexiglass physical barriers, please click here.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides update on personal protective equipment: 'burn rate ... is much higher than we would have expected'

B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provided an update on March 25 with respect to the ongoing efforts by B.C. government to source supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE). Dr. Henry said over the past week, she has seen a "dramatic increase" in the use of PPE by health-care workers particularly as more people are admitted to hospital for COVID-19.

To watch Dr. Henry's March 25, 2020 press conference, click here.

The BC Pharmacy has provided a transcription of Dr. Bonnie Henry's public statement below:

In the past week, we have seen a dramatic increase in use as we have more people with COVID-19 in hospitals, and we understand the absolute need to keep people safe. But the burn rate as we call it is much higher than we would have expected and we are putting in place measures now to try and control that to be more efficient and effective in how we’re using PPE.

We have new shipments on order. We’re looking at things like alternative supplies across the board, alternative ways of preserving personal protective equipment so it is available, both now and in the future. And we’re at a bit of critical phase with personal protective equipment. This happened quite quickly. We have had a number of supplies on order for some time. Some have arrived, thankfully, and we are actively looking at how we can get as much as we can in the short term. But we are looking at alternative supplies and ways of managing to be more efficient with PPE and more of that will come out over the next coming days.

In response to a reporter's question on the severity of the PPE shortage, Dr. Henry provided the additional information below:

It’s a reflection of how challenging it is for health-care workers to feel very vulnerable as we are working in these situations, worrying about getting sick ourselves, worrying about passing it on to our families, our homes. But also being able to care for people effectively. And it’s is a challenge that we have nine long term care facility outbreaks where additional protections are needed in those facilities and now we have increasing numbers of people in hospital and that is going through way more personal protective equipment than we expected.

We are on a tenuous level right now. But we do have a plan for that. We’ve had a plan for a number of months about how to address that and there are things that we can do that we’ve seen being done in other places that are based on evidence: around how we can cohort patients, for example, so people don’t have to change their masks or respirators or eye protection between each patient, because you’re dealing with everybody who has the same thing.

There are things that we will be doing over the coming days and we can have more details once we’ve worked it out with the health-care worker leaders and with our hospital leaders over the next 24 to 48 hours. We are also absolutely looking at all aspects of things that we can do to increase our stockpiles of personal protective equipment, particularly there is good evidence that you can reuse certain types of equipment if it’s been cleaned appropriately and we’re looking at how we can do that. We’re also looking at alternate supplies from around the world.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, March 25, 2020
Public press conference

Canadian Society of Hospital Pharmacists releases series of videos to present the latest information on medications and COVID-19

The Canadian Society of Hospital Pharmacists' B.C. Branch has created a series of short videos with information on medications during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The following videos have been made available to date:

Does ibuprofen worsen COVID-19 infection?
by Dr. Doson Chua, BSc(Pharm), PharmD, FCSHP, BCPS, BCCP

Role of Hydroxychloroquine
by Dr. Gregory Mah, BSc(Pharm), PharmD

Should patients discontinue their ACE Inhibitors and ARBs?
by Dr. Arden Barry, BSc, BSc(Pharm), PharmD, ACPR