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Health Minister announces changes for pharmacy

February 21, 2012

On Feb. 13, 2012, the Hon. Fred Horne, Minister of Health and Wellness, announced three changes that will affect pharmacy practice in Alberta.

  1. Pharmacists will be reimbursed for refilling prescriptions.
  2. A Remote Pharmacy Access Grant will be put in place.
  3. The price the government is paying for generic drugs will be reduced.

These changes do not come into effect until July 1, 2012. View the government’s news release.

Details are still being finalized
The transition team, comprised of the Alberta Pharmacists’ Association (RxA) and representatives from community pharmacy, that has been representing Alberta pharmacists since 2009 will continue to work with Alberta Health and Wellness to develop the framework.

Pharmacists have been able to refill prescriptions since 2007
All pharmacists in Alberta have had the legislative authority to adapt (refill) prescriptions since 2007. The announcement simply means that now, instead of the pharmacist offering this care for free or the patient paying directly, there will be reimbursement.

Refilling a prescription is only one small part of a larger clinical process
Standards 11 and 12 of the Standards of Practice for Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians outline what pharmacists must consider when adapting a prescription. The standards also stipulate that pharmacists cannot refill prescriptions for controlled substances or narcotics (for example, OxyContin).

In addition to following the Standards and the Code of Ethics, pharmacists limit their practice within the limits of their personal competence. If they don’t feel that they have enough information about the patient, the condition, or the drug, they will not refill a prescription.

As always, what is most important is that patients get the RIGHT drug, not just A drug 
As they do now, pharmacists will continue to assess the patient and their therapy each time they renew a prescription. Pharmacists must be able to answer ‘yes’ to at least these four questions before refilling a prescription.

  1. Is the patient’s treatment current?
  2. Do they have enough information about the patient’s condition?
  3. Are they familiar with the patient and their health history?
  4. In their professional judgment, is refilling the prescription in the patient’s best interest?

Pharmacists will continue to work with other health professionals
Making sure patients get the RIGHT drug also takes communication between the patient’s pharmacist, their doctor, and their other caregivers. This announcement in no way means that patients do not have to see their doctors. Pharmacists will continue to partner with other health professionals to ensure patients achieve the best outcomes.