Accessing Medications You May Need During a State of Emergency

Accessing Medications You May Need During a State of Emergency

Earthquakes, floods, tsunamis and wildfires are just some of the potential hazards in BC.

Medical records may be difficult to access during a disaster. If you rely on a prescription, talk to your primary health care provider or pharmacist about how to keep an extra supply or valid prescription in your emergency kit and grab and go bags.

If you have been displaced by an evacuation, you can also visit a pharmacy near you to access an emergency supply of medications you may need. The College’s Find a Pharmacy tool can help you locate a pharmacy in the community where you are staying.

To learn more about how to prepare for an emergency, visit

Providing Continuity of Care for Patients during a State of Emergency

Professional Practice Policy 31 – Emergency Supply for Continuity of Care outlines what’s expected of pharmacists in providing emergency supplies of medication for continuity of care for patients during a state of emergency.

Pharmacists are required to use their professional judgement, thoroughly document any medications they provide and communicate with the patient’s prescriber as soon as possible.

PharmaNet also plays an important role in supporting continuity in care by allowing a pharmacist to review a patient’s prescriptions and medication history regardless of what pharmacy a patient typically uses.

Learn how to make PharmaCare claims for patients affected by an emergency

See information for from PharmaCare on Patient Care During States of Emergency and Evacuations.

Participating in Local Emergency Management Plans

In BC, local governments lead the initial response to emergencies and disasters in their communities.

Pharmacy managers should reach out to the Emergency Program Coordinator for their community to ensure they are aware of and participate in local plans.

Learn more about Local Authority Emergency Management Programs in BC.

Temporary Pharmacy Licence

A Temporary Pharmacy Licence may be issued to help provide continuity of care for patients during an emergency.

The Temporary Pharmacy Licence applicant must already own a licensed pharmacy in the area where an Evacuation Order or Declared Local State of Emergency order has been issued.

The new location for the temporary pharmacy must be located near the area covered by the Evacuation Order or Declared Local State of Emergency and is at the discretion of the Registrar.

Learn how to apply for a Temporary Pharmacy Licence during an emergency.

Professional Practice Policy-31: Emergency Supply for Continuity of Care

This policy provides guidance to pharmacists when providing patients with an emergency supply of prescription drugs for continuity of care in exceptional circumstances in accordance with the Pharmacy Operations and Drug Scheduling Act (“PODSA”) Bylaws section 19(7)(d).


A pharmacist may exercise professional judgment to provide a patient with an emergency supply of prescription drugs for continuity of care using the following principles:

  1. Individual competence: The pharmacist has appropriate knowledge and understanding of the condition and the drug being dispensed for emergency supply;
  2. Sufficient information: The pharmacist has sufficient information about the patient’s health status to determine that dispensing an emergency supply is appropriate in the given circumstances;
  3. Appropriate quantity: The pharmacist should determine an appropriate quantity of the emergency supply based on what is reasonable in the given circumstances, and based on the drug involved;
  4. Informed consent: The pharmacist has obtained the patient’s or the patient representative’s informed consent before undertaking an emergency supply;
  5. Documentation: The pharmacist responsible for making the decision to provide an emergency supply should:
    1. document in the patient’s record the rationale for the decision and any appropriate follow-up plan;
    2. ensure the PharmaNet dispensing record includes the College of Pharmacists of British Columbia pharmacist registration number in the practitioner ID field to identify the pharmacist responsible for the decision; and
  6. Notification of other health professionals: Where possible and appropriate, the pharmacist should notify the practitioner in a timely fashion and should make a record of this in the patient’s record. 

For questions related to providing continuity of care for patients during a state of emergency, contact the College’s practice support at

Pharmacists and patients can also contact the First Nations Health Authority at 1-800-317-7878 to verify patient identification information and for NIHB billing purposes.


Emergency Info BC

Emergency Info BC is the Provinces hub for disaster information. Visit their website and follow them on Twitter for the latest active provincial emergency information.



Earthquakes and Tsunami



First Nations and Aboriginal People

Emergency Preparedness