March 27 COVID-19 Update

Updated on April 22, 2020 (Originally posted on March 27, 2020)

Essential health worker status for pharmacists

Pharmacists are considered essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic in British Columbia. The Emergency Management BC office and the Provincial Health Officer has determined that pharmacists are a direct-to-public health service, and that pharmacies themselves are considered essential health service providers.

The B.C. government has declared that as pharmacies are an essential service, they should and are encouraged to remain open, while following the orders and guidance provided by B.C. Public Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry to protect the safety and health of their staff and patients.

The following additional information may impact pharmacists and their teams during the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Health workers during the COVID-19 pandemic receive priority testing
  • Licensees of long-term care facilities, along with workers and contractors, will be reporting their staff and contractors' names, contact informations, Social Insurance Numbers and additional information using instructions as directed by the Provincial Health Officer, by midnight, March 28, 2020
  • Employees, contracted workers and volunteers are ordered to only work in one long-term care facility, unless given an exemption by the Medical Health Officer. This order was put into effect on March 26, 2020

College proposes bylaw amendments to temporarily register retired pharmacists and non-practising pharmacy professionals

The College of Pharmacists of BC is seeking feedback for proposed amendments to bylaws under the Health Profession Act to allow temporary registration for retired and non-practising pharmacy professionals, and temporary limited and student pharmacists.

The proposal was put together in response following a call from B.C. Public Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry requesting all health regulators to begin emergency registration of non-practising or retired health-care professionals.

The bylaw amendments permit temporary registration for pharmacy professionals if the registrar or College board declares there to be immediate need for pharmacy services due to threat of serious harm to public safety, health, or welfare, or at the request of provincial and federal authorities.

Temporarily registered pharmacists, under the amendments, will have valid registration for up to six months and has allowances for the College registrar to extend the end date of temporary registrations.

To submit comments to the College for feedback, follow the instructions below:

Comments on proposed changes to regulatory college bylaws may be submitted by email, feedback form or regular mail. These submissions should be addressed to the attention of the Director of Policy & Legislation.

Download: Feedback Form
Fax: 604-733-2493 or 800-377-8129

Mailing Address:
Bob Nakagawa, Registrar
200 - 1765 West 8th Avenue Vancouver, BC V6J 5C6

College issues statement on patient signatures for Opioid Agonist Treatment

The College of Pharmacists has posted this response in their Frequently Asked Questions, on the topic of whether pharmacy teams can forgo patient signatures for their OAT accountability log, in order to maintain social distancing.

Below is an excerpt from the College:

Please take all precautions you can, including disinfection, restricting contact, etc. If you are making procedural changes in the best interest of your patients and your staff's health, please ensure you document your temporary policy and that it is understood by all staff.

There are many changes that the College are reviewing, in coordination with the Ministry of Health and Health Canada. Please continue to monitor our website and email communications for updates regarding this issue.

Beware of scams during COVID-19 pandemic

The BC Pharmacy Association has been notified by several members that they have been contacted by suspected scammers. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the BCPhA understands pharmacies are seeking alternative suppliers to keep store shelves stocked. It is important to remember to exercise due diligence when interacting with any alternative supplier.

In the latest example, the BCPhA learned that a member was offered the sale of a substantial amount of personal protective equipment by a supposed manufacturer. Upon closer inspection, it appears the seller was attempting to misrepresent themselves as a legitimate supplier.

Health Canada is also warning against false or misleading health products being sold for COVID-19. The Government of Canada has published a list of hand sanitizers and disinfectants that meet Health Canada’s requirements, and provides guidance on the use of masks and respirators during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The BC Pharmacy Association recommends the following tips to protect yourself from being a victim of scam:

  • Check the vendors' business registrations
  • Look up regulator certificate numbers to ensure the information matches
  • Consider phoning vendors back through credible contact listings to confirm that a caller is legitimate
  • There is a worldwide shortage of PPE. If the offer seems too good to be true, that is a sign to be extra vigilant

If you believe you have been the victim of a scam targeting pharmacies, or an attempted scam, please consider sharing the information to protect your colleagues through

Watch out for fraudulent prescriptions

As an increasing number of practitioners and pharmacies rely on verbal or faxed prescriptions during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is increasingly important for pharmacy teams to be vigilant for illegitimate prescriptions.

Pharmacy teams should ensure:

  • the prescription was faxed from the physician's office and not by a patient
  • all requires aspects of a prescription (date, signature) are included
  • that the patient's identification is confirmed
  • that the prescription has not already been filled elsewhere through the patient's PharmaNet profile

More information is available on the College's website to help pharmacies guard against prescription fraud.

Survey: Identifying pharmacies offering Opioid Agonist Treatment delivery

The BC Centre on Substance Use (BCCSU), in partnership with BCPhA, are calling out to compile a list of community pharmacies in all health authority regions of the province to determine services that could support patients on opioid agonist therapy. The list of community pharmacies will be continually updated and information will be posted online on the BCCSU page.

This survey will take only 5 minutes to complete.

Few of the responses (clearly identified in the question description sections) will not be publicly available. If you have any question or would like to have your information updated, please email us at ​

To access the survey, please select the link below:

Survey to Identify Pharmacies Offering OAT Delivery

Canadian Pharmacists' Association releases personal protective equipment suggested best practices for pharmacies

The Canadian Pharmacists' Association has released a new resource, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Suggested Best Practices for Pharmacies During the COVID-19 Pandemic.

With contributions from pharmacists and other health care professionals, these best practices are based on current available evidence and will be updated as required.

Resource available: College Temporary Authorizations of Controlled Substances

The BC Pharmacy Association has put together a resource to help pharmacists understand the changes announced by the College of Pharmacists on March 26, 2020 to permit pharmacists to act in the best interests of patients who require controlled drugs and substances, including Opioid Agonist Treatment medications.

Some of the changes are described below. For the full list of changes, please visit the College of Pharmacists of BC's website.

  1. Transferring prescriptions to other pharmacists
  2. Permitting verbal orders for a new prescription or refill an existing prescription
  3. Faxing of controlled prescription program forms

To access the BCPhA resource, click on the link below.

College Temporary Authorizations of Controlled Substances