Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Pharmacists getting power to prescribe

Look for an all out media blitz about pharmacist prescribing in Alberta over the next week or two. Besides trumpeting the news in general, the Alberta College of Pharmacists want to clear up as many misconceptions about prescribing that are currently held by the public.

I'd say this publicity is needed. Last week I got a decent sampling of comments from the public when I did a shift in a community pharmacy. I think the public generally expects that pharmacists will have powers similar to physicians. However, this isn't the case. In fact, some aspects of a pharmacy purchase will become more difficult. A pharmacist is now required to log the sale of all Schedule 2 (behind the counter) OTC products. So anyone picking up some Gravol or acetaminophen with codeine will have to give all of their personal info (including Alberta Health Care number) to the pharmacist.

Overall, pharmacist prescribing should be a positive development, but it's still very much a work in development. For example, the criteria for determining if a pharmacist can initiate drug therapy are still not known. For now, adapting prescriptions and emergency supplies are the only types of pharmacist presribing we'll see.

From the Calgary Herald:
Albertans will soon be able to bypass the doctor's office and head directly to the drugstore to purchase some prescription medications from pharmacists in a first for Canada.

The Alberta government said Wednesday it's moving to allow pharmacists to prescribe some drugs under new regulations that will take effect as early as this fall.

The change will also allow the province's 3,500 pharmacists to extend and modify prescriptions from physicians as well as administer injectable drug treatments like vaccines. ...more

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