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Inducement prohibition effective date now June 10

April 29, 2014

Council originally established May 1, 2014 as the date for the inducement prohibition to come into effect. The college wrote to pharmacy groups, requesting that they identify any technical or operational impediments that would impede compliance before this date. As a result of feedback received, council amended the date for coming into effect to June 10, 2014, which is 60 days after council’s decision to adopt the amendments.

The college adopted the prohibition because:

  1. We recognize that pharmacists are healthcare professionals, not just vendors of drugs. The prohibition acknowledges pharmacists changing role and the complex patient care pharmacists are now starting to do – adapting prescriptions, administering injections, writing care plans, coordinating drug therapy, and prescribing. In doing so, pharmacists are assuming more significant roles as essential healthcare professionals. It is not appropriate for health professionals making such critical care decisions to be involved in offering inducements to people to use their services.
  2. Healthcare delivery is evolving. Healthcare delivery is becoming more team based (for example, Primary Care Networks and Family Care Clinics). Trust and strong relationships are required for success. Pharmacists need to have a trusting relationship with patients for the best care. The foundation for these relationships needs to be trust, not the rewards a patient can get. In team-based care, pharmacists also need to have trusting relationships with the members of the patient’s healthcare team. 
  3. When a patient transfers pharmacies or uses multiple pharmacies by reason of the inducements provided, the patient’s relationship with the pharmacist is not the only one affected. It also impacts the relationships between the pharmacist and the other members of the patient’s healthcare team. It takes time to establish a complete patient history, mutual therapy goals, and lines of communication among team members who often practice in different locations and see the patient over differing periods of time. If team members are constantly changed or only have access to portions of a patient’s medical and care history, it makes it extremely difficult for them to work together effectively and ensure continuity of care.
  4. Alberta is not unique in addressing inducements. Seven other provinces have rules in various forms that prohibit or restrict the use of inducements in pharmacy. For example, Ontario has prohibited inducements on prescriptions and prescription services for over a decade.

As the regulatory body, it’s our job to make sure practice environments support our registrants and the care they provide to patients. It is also our job to set and maintain high ethical and practice standards, and support the integrity of pharmacy. The prohibition maintains the high ethical and practice standards we and Albertans expect from health professionals.

For more information, please see the amendmentsFAQ document and background paper posted on the ACP website.

Originally published in the April 29, 2014 issue of The Link