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Council update

May 10, 2017

Council convened on April 27 and 28 in Calgary. The following is a summary of council’s deliberations:

Pharmacy Human Resources: ACP has experienced an extraordinary influx of International Pharmacy Graduates (IPG) in the past two years, partly stimulated by policies in other jurisdictions. Current trending is outpacing the growth in Alberta’s population, and is greater than the growth in the number of pharmacists required in Alberta. This is also impacting the availability of opportunities for Structured Practical Training.

Registration policies for foreign candidates in other Canadian jurisdictions have been studied and discussed with Alberta Health and Alberta Labour. It is clear that a common standard for entry-to-practice is required.

Council is committed to ensuring the competence of individuals at entry-to-practice. Council recognizes the importance of Structured Practical Training (SPT) as part of this process. It has noted that SPT should provide a rigorous opportunity for candidates to observe, practice, and demonstrate skills required at entry to practice in context with pharmacist practice in Alberta. Therefore, council has requested that ACP continue to enhance the policies, rules, and processes within the structured practical training program, with a view to ensuring all candidates are able to practice within the context of the scope of practice for pharmacists in Alberta.

Executive Committee – Council received a report from its Nominating Committee. Stan Dyjur was elected as President–elect and Mary O’Neill was elected as Executive Member at Large for the 2017-18 council term. Commencing July 1, 2017, ACP’s Executive Committee will include:

  • Brad Couldwell (District 5) – President
  • Stan Dyjur (District 4) – President-elect
  • Mary O’Neill (Public Member) – Executive Member at Large
  • Taciana Pereira (District 3) – Past-president

Legalization of Cannabis – Council reviewed recent announcements from the federal government, observing that it is government’s intent to decriminalize and legalize cannabis for recreational use, and pending further research, to continue existing regulations with respect to cannabis for medical use.

Motions were passed to support policies that will:

  • Prohibit the sale of cannabis for recreational use from pharmacies; and,
  • Restrict the use of the term “dispensary” and any other terms or symbols such as a “green cross” that may imply the professional status of, or the provision of professional services from, any entity that is not regulated under the Pharmacy and Drugs Act or other provincial legislation that regulates health professionals or health facilities.

ACP will continue to engage with other regulators to develop policy about the use of cannabis for medical use. In the short term, pharmacists should include screening for cannabis use, as it would for any other substances used for recreational purposes, when assessing individuals’ health and drug therapy needs. Additionally, registrants are reminded that current legislation does not allow for the growing, storage, dispensing, compounding, or sale of cannabis from pharmacies. ACP’s current policy is:

  1. Marihuana, in any form, including any derivative, must not be produced in the premises of a licensed pharmacy.
  2. None of the other activities referred to in Section 22 of the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations, SOR/2016- 230, may be conducted in a licensed pharmacy.
  3. No licensee or proprietor of a licensed pharmacy may be a licensed producer as defined in the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations.
  4. No regulated member of the college may be a licensed producer or responsible person in charge as defined in the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations at the same time that the regulated member engages in the practice of pharmacy.

Opiate Reduction – Council was briefed about deliberations by Alberta’s Opiate Reduction Advisory Committee, including policies that are being considered to impact the prescribing and use of opiates. Amongst those discussed were the possibility of quantitative limits on prescriptions, and a requirement for all pharmacists to review patient records in NETCARE prior to dispensing any substance that may be misused. Council will further discuss these and other policy alternatives at its meeting in June.

DRAFT Compounding and Repackaging Agreement for Services Delivered to British Columbia – Council approved a modified agreement, required by any Compounding and Repackaging Pharmacy that provides services to a licensed pharmacy located in British Columbia. Due to the interjurisdictional nature of this service, the model agreement is more rigorous than that for services delivered to Alberta pharmacies, particularly with respect to privacy requirements. Subject to review by the College of Pharmacists in British Columbia, it is Council’s intent that this model agreement will become a requirement effective June 1, 2017.

Compounding and Repackaging of Controlled Substances – Correspondence was received from Health Canada enabling the Compounding and Repackaging of Controlled Substances by a Compounding and Repackaging Pharmacy, subject to qualifying as a “licensed dealer” under federal legislation. The model agreement required by Compounding and Repackaging Pharmacies that provide services to Alberta licensed pharmacies is being amended, and will be made available in early June.

e-Health – Council received presentation from Kim Wierenga, ADM Health Information Systems Division Alberta Health about:

  • Alberta’s e-health strategy with emphasis on AHS’s Clinical Information System
  • Integration of Community-based Health Records
  • E-rxing
  • MyHealth (Alberta’s patient health portal)

Alberta Health has committed to Canada Health Infoway to pilot its PrescribeIT, e-rxing solution. Neither ACP, nor RxA, have been invited to participate in policy development about this initiative to this point. The proposal conflicts with principles for e-rxing approved by council. It is Alberta Health’s wish to initiate a pilot e-rxing project this summer.