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Health Canada introduces changes to drug sample distribution

September 2, 2020

Changes have been made to those who are authorized to provide samples to patients.

Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians should be aware of recent regulatory amendments to the Food and Drug Regulations (FDR) with respect to providing prescription and non-prescription samples of drugs to patients.

Over-the-counter (OTC) and Natural health product samples

Certain low-risk, non-prescription products and natural health products may now be distributed directly to the public by the manufacturer. Previously, these samples needed to be distributed via a practitioner or a pharmacist.

To view the lists of drugs and natural health products that can be distributed by the manufacturer as samples directly to consumers, please visit the following links:

Prescription Drug Samples

The list of practitioners to whom prescription samples may be distributed has been amended to include all individuals identified as practitioners in the FDR, as long as these classes of practitioners are authorized to prescribe these drugs in their province. In Alberta, this change means that nurse practitioners, optometrists, podiatrists, midwives, dental hygienists, and dieticians may now potentially be authorized to provide prescription samples directly to patients.

ACP guidance on pharmacists providing medication samples to patients remains unchanged.

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