CEO's Message: No better time for B.C. pharmacists to receive prescribing authority

Updated on May 18, 2023 (Originally posted on May 15, 2023) The Tablet

As I sit down to write something pithy or profound about the launch of minor ailment and contraception prescribing in British Columbia, I can’t get the Lizzo earworm lyrics “It’s about damn time” out of my head. Without aiming to sound trite, it is in fact exactly damn time for this to happen.

The past three years of weathering the COVID-19 storm has included drug shortages, fear and uncertainty for pharmacists and patients, but the also huge success of the COVID vaccination program. What better time to take another step forward in enabling pharmacists to fill more gaps in the primary care system.

Since last September, the changes to Professional Practice Policy-58 have created widespread opportunities for patients to get the medications they need, when they need them. Pharmacists have helped ensure patients do not fall through the cracks because they lack a family doctor. The changes approved by Health Minister Adrian Dix have led to thousands of patients being connected with a pharmacist who can help them.

The next step will enable prescribing for some ailments and contraception, and will provide even more cherished quick access for patients to get the in-person assessment of their health issue and, when appropriate, the medication they need to treat their minor condition. Additionally, improving equitable access to contraception in community pharmacies across the province is critical to providing women with the contraception choices they deserve. 

Few dispute that our Health Care System has been put under enormous strain during the pandemic and it has shown where the fault lines are — the fixes will take time. But B.C. has a clear strategy with many elements — a new medical school, more support for our ambulance service, the recruitment of more doctors and nurses and, ensuring community pharmacists work to their maximum potential.

Change is messy and sometimes seems slow, but the changes to community pharmacy practice initiated by the Minister of Health and his officials over the last six months will be life-changing for patients.

I know I speak on behalf of the BCPhA Board, pharmacists and pharmacy owners across our province when I say that we thank Minister Dix for his leadership. We have also enjoyed the collaborative approach by the Ministry Team, headed up by Assistant Deputy Minister Mitch Moneo, for this important work. Lastly, I would be remiss in not recognizing the important work we have done with Suzanne Solven and her team at the College.

These are heady days for pharmacy in B.C.  

Geraldine Vance
Chief Executive Officer
BC Pharmacy Association

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