In October, we wrote about changes to pharmacists’ scope of practice that allow us to provide better care for our patients. Some of these changes are already in place: fewer restrictions on the ability to renew prescriptions, flexibility to make therapeutic changes to prescriptions for a wider variety of medications, and the ability to do injections other than vaccinations.
We are eagerly awaiting the changes coming in the spring of 2023 that will allow us to prescribe for minor ailments. But there is one additional improvement that is still in the planning stage, which we feel will make a big difference locally.
What if your pharmacist cannot renew your prescription?
Since October 14, 2022, pharmacists can renew prescriptions for most medical conditions, but only if the prescription has not expired and the dosage and instructions for use have not changed for at least six months. A further restriction is that we cannot adapt or renew a prescription that has been written by a doctor whose license is no longer active (e.g., chronic illness, moved away, retired, died).
For those instances where a renewal or adaptation is not possible, pharmacists can continue to provide an emergency supply to ensure access to medications. In the past, emergency supplies were usually for 7 to 10 days, to provide enough medication until the patient could see their doctor. For patients without a family doctor, we can now provide an emergency supply for a longer period of time, but this is not ideal. However, going to walk-in clinics for prescription renewals is not ideal either. The BC Government has recognized this and will be implementing a new program to ensure improved continuity of medical care. Community pharmacists will soon be able to contact a provincial support team to assist with prescription renewals for these situations.
It is up to individual pharmacists to register for this program. Not all pharmacists will feel comfortable taking on added responsibilities, but we are excited to be able to provide this extra service. We have registered and will be ready to utilize this service as soon as it becomes available. Stay tuned for more details.