BC's COVID-19 response
Pharmacists to provide prescription refills and emergency supplies of medication as needed
On March 16, 2020, in a joint statement on B.C.’s COVID-19 response, Minister of Health, Adrian Dix and B.C. Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry announced that patients will be able to obtain refills of their regular prescriptions at pharmacies in an effort to avoid non-essential physician visits and free doctors to treat COVID-19 cases.
“We have worked with the College of Pharmacists to advise pharmacies to provide patients with a prescription refill or an emergency supply of their medications if needed. This will give physicians more time to care for patients with acute care needs. British Columbians are asked to respect this temporary arrangement and are reminded that there is no need to stockpile medication.”
- Adrian Dix, Minister of Health
The current situation unfolding across Canada and the world is unprecedented and the College would like to remind BC’s pharmacy professionals of their continued duty to act in the best interests of their patients and the public.
This means pharmacists have an important role to play in helping patients avoid non-essential visits with primary care providers.
The public is being asked to:
- To not visit a pharmacy in-person if they are experiencing symptoms or are self-isolating.
- To avoid non-essential doctor or nurse practitioner visits by getting their regular prescription refills directly from their pharmacist.
- To not stockpile medications.
- To consider refilling their prescriptions if they have an increased risk of more severe outcomes from COVID-19 so that they do not have to go to a pharmacy or clinic if they do become sick.
- To speak to their pharmacist about their personal health situation and the appropriate supply of medications.
- To tell their pharmacy if they are experiencing symptoms or are self-isolating and require medications to be delivered to them.
- To practice social distancing while in a pharmacy or when receiving a delivery of medications.
Pharmacists to Provide Prescription Refills and Emergency Supplies of Medication as Needed
Pharmacies are being asked to help maintain the viability of our health care system by reducing the load on physicians and nurse practitioners.
The College is asking pharmacists to act in the best interests of patients by:
- Providing up to 30-day emergency supplies to patients with expired prescriptions, including narcotics, psychiatric drugs and anti-psychotics for chronic conditions. This may be repeated for another 30-day supply if necessary.
- Providing early refills to people so they can self-isolate for a minimum of 14 days – and longer for seniors and other more vulnerable populations.
Pharmacy professionals also need to help prevent disruptions to the drug supply by managing stock appropriately. Do not exceed the max days’ supply on refills and do not over-order.
Providing an Emergency Supply of Prescription Drugs
Professional Practice Policy 31 – Emergency Supply for Continuity of Care
A pharmacist should not hesitate to provide a patient with an up to 30-day emergency supply of prescription drugs for continuity of care under Professional Practice Policy 31 – Emergency Supply for Continuity of Care.
This policy provides broad latitude for pharmacist decisions on emergency supplies, provided it is in the patient’s best interest and all decisions are properly documented with rationale.
Practice Policy 58 – Medication Management (Adapting a Prescription)
In some cases, providing a renewal in line with Practice Policy 58 – Medication Management (Adapting a Prescription) may already enable a pharmacist to provide an appropriate supply of medications to a patient.
In addition to using their professional judgment, pharmacists are reminded of the important role PharmaNet plays in supporting continuity of care by allowing pharmacists to review patient prescriptions and medication histories, regardless of what pharmacy a patient typically uses.
As is always required when dispensing a prescription, pharmacists are required to thoroughly document any medications they provide.
PharmaCare Information on COVID-19
- Use intervention code “UF” for providing early fills.
- All early fills, emergency supplies, or other dispenses outside the norm due to COVID-19 MUST be documented as “for COVID-19” or similar, to avoid audit.
- See information for from PharmaCare on Patient Care During States of Emergency and Evacuations.
- See PharmaCare Newsletters with guidance on COVID-19
Screening For the health and safety of the public and pharmacy professionals
The public is being asked to avoid visiting a pharmacy in-person if they are experiencing symptoms or are self-isolating. They are also being asked to practice social distancing while in a pharmacy or when receiving a delivery of medications.
Pharmacists should make use of the BC COVID-19 Symptom Self-Assessment Tool
Medication Delivery Considerations
For the health and safety of the public and pharmacists, a pharmacist should confirm if their patient is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or are self-isolating prior to delivering mediations.
In addition, a pharmacist should consider how to maintain social distancing while delivering medications to a patient.
All pharmacy professionals need to follow updates provided on