"Can I dispense prescriptions written by health professionals practicing in other provinces?"

August 24, 2016

Pharmacists have asked, “can I dispense prescriptions written by health professionals practicing in other provinces?” The answer to this question becomes more complicated where scopes of practice between jurisdictions differ (e.g., naturopaths).

Defining the roles of health professionals is a provincial responsibility that complements provincial responsibility for delivering healthcare. Professional scopes of practice differ between provinces. This is a symptom of different provincial policies and regulatory structures (along with other considerations) that define provincial/jurisdictional health systems.

In Alberta, to be valid, a prescription must be provided by a person authorized to prescribe under Alberta legislation or federal legislation. Under federal legislation, to be valid, a prescription must be provided by a person authorized to treat patients with a drug under the laws of the province within which that person is practicing his or her profession.

When you receive a prescription in Alberta, your authority to dispense is therefore governed by the statutes in effect in Alberta that specifies who may prescribe. For example, it is not appropriate for a pharmacist in Alberta to dispense a prescription written by a naturopath in British Columbia, because naturopaths in Alberta have not been authorized to prescribe. Where prescribing by a practitioner is authorized in another province, but the authority is narrower than in Alberta, then dispensing should be limited to the scope of the narrower authority. Akin, where prescribing by a practitioner is authorized in another province, but the authority is broader than in Alberta, then again, dispensing should be limited to the scope of the prescribing authority granted in Alberta.  


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