B.C. pharmacists are allowed to refill expired prescriptions for chronic conditions, with a limit of 30 days supply so people can self-isolate. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

Don’t stockpile drugs, only recently expired prescriptions can be refilled, B.C. pharmacies say

B.C. allows bypassing doctor for chronic condition refills in COVID-19 emergency

As with toilet paper and food items, some people are unnecessarily trying to stock up on prescription drugs as the medical system copes with coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, says the B.C. Pharmacy Association.

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix has announced a series of measures to help free up doctors, including cancelling elective surgeries, calling on retired and military doctors, and allowing chronic medicine patients to get prescription refills directly from their pharmacist.

With a surge of people attempting to refill expired prescriptions or get new ones, the B.C. Pharmacy Association issued a reminder to patients that legal limits on drug distribution remain in effect. Expired prescriptions may temporarily be refilled if they were issued within the past year, with a 30-day supply so people can self-isolate for 14 days or more if they have symptoms of respiratory illness.

“There has been a significant increase in requests for prescription renewals and emergency refills, and some confusion around the regulations pharmacists must follow,” Annette Robinson, vice president of the B.C. Pharmacy Association, told Black Press. “We are recommending that patients phone their regular pharmacy to discuss their needs with a pharmacist or a pharmacy team member.”

If patients have refills left on a prescription, they are also advised to call first to arrange direct refill. If they have no refills left, “in certain situations” additional supplies may be provided.

Birth control pills can be renewed for up to two years from the original date the prescription was written, and that is the only exception to the one-year expiry, Robinson said.

RELATED: RCMP warn of COVID-19 scams spreading in B.C.

RELATED: B.C. declares state of emergency, recalls legislature

PharmaCare, the provincial drug insurance agency, has issued advice to pharmacists to participate in COVID-19 assistance.

“Reduce prescriber visits by providing up to 30-day emergency supplies to patients with expired prescriptions,” says the latest pharmacist newsletter from PharmaCare. “This may be repeated for another 30-day supply if necessary. This includes narcotics, psychiatric drugs and anti-psychotics for chronic conditions.”

Birth control pills can be renewed for up to two years from the original date the prescription was written.

The main goal for pharmacists in the COVID-19 emergency is to provide people with an adequate supply of their regular medications so they can self-isolate, or to refill prescriptions that run out during the period of high demand for physician services.

“Patients are encouraged not to stockpile medications,” the association said in a public statement March 17. “Pharmacists aim to make sure all patients have access to their medications, so they are generally not providing more than a 30-day supply to support those who are self-isolating.”

No new medications can be dispensed without a doctor’s prescription, only renewals for chronic conditions.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C. COVID-19 contact restrictions working, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

’Not out of the woods yet’ as next two weeks are critical

Interior Health to host virtual town hall Friday, March 27

The Q&A forum begins at 6 p.m. PDT, link in story

West Kootenay octogenarian helping develop low-cost ventilator for COVID-19 patients

Peter Brockley is working with his doctor son, Graham, to develop the unit that could save lives

Kootenay doctor mobilizes engineers in effort to bolster PPE supply

West Kootenay doctor, engineers and volunteers create personal protection equipment with 3D printers

Interior Health issues alert following confirmed COVID-19 case on WestJet flight

The public exposure alert comes following the March 21 WestJet flight from Calgary to Kamloops

Trudeau announces 75% wage subsidy for small businesses amid COVID-19

This is up from the previously announced 10 per cent wage subsidy

World update, 9:30 p.m. March 27: Positive news in Korea as U.S. hits 100,000 cases

The United States now has the most coronavirus cases of any country in the world

VIDEO: Penguins roam empty halls of Vancouver Aquarium

COVID-19 has forced the Vancouver Aquarium to close access to guests – leaving room for its residents

Kids get back to learning in B.C., online

Ministry of Education rolls out new tool for school

67 more B.C. COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Vancouver region

Positive tests found in Surrey, Langley long-term care facilities

‘Now is not the time to bag that peak’: BCSAR manager discourages risky outdoor adventures

Call volumes are not going down, even as the COVID-19 pandemic persists

Food Banks BC already seeing surge in demand due to COVID-19 pandemic

Executive director Laura Lansink said they expect applications will keep increasing

Nanaimo couple caught aboard cruise ship with four dead and COVID-19 present

Four ‘older guests’ have died on Holland America’s Zaandam; cruise line confirms two COVID-19 cases

Frontline workers receiving COVID-19 isolation exemptions prompt concerns

Provincial Health Authority staff exempt from self-isolation upon return from international travel

Most Read