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

From baseball stars to forest fires: Southeast Fire Centre water bomber has an interesting past

Tanker 489 is stationed in Castlegar this year, but in the 1960s it belonged to the L.A. Dodgers.

RDCK to implement new emergency alert notification system

System also includes sends alerts for water advisories

RDCK prepares anti-discrimination, anti-racism policies

Also: building codes, wildfire mitigation, parks openings, and Winlaw boardwalk

LETTER: Prepare a go-bag

From reader Jane Merks

Lost dog swims Columbia River multiple times searching for home

The dog was missing from his Castlegar home for three days.

B.C. identifies 20 new COVID-19 cases, travellers specified in count

Pandemic total 3,028 cases, 51 people from outside Canada

Survey, hotline launched amid probe into racist blood-alcohol guessing game at B.C. hospital

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond has been appointed to lead an investigation by Health Minister Adrian Dix

Canadian policing organization calls for decriminalization of simple illicit drug possession

Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police want policing focus of opioid crisis to be replaced with a health one

Filing deadline in RCMP sexual-harassment class-action extended due to COVID-19

Plaintiffs now have until January 2021 to submit claims for up to $222,000

Jamie Bacon pleads guilty to charge in Surrey Six case

The plea brings an end to a complex legal case that has spanned more than a decade

Hefty undeclared driver charges piling up, ICBC warns customers

Average extra penalty $2,971 after an at-fault accident

B.C. appeals judge’s decision to leave three clubhouses in Hells Angels hands

The province has filed two notices of appeal related to the B.C. Supreme Court decision

Conservation officers relocate Spirit bear known to roam northwestern B.C.

Bear roamed valley north of Terrace for many years

B.C. premier applauds call to decriminalize drug possession

Police shouldn’t struggle with health issues, Horgan says

Most Read