Pharmacists in B.C. can now authorize prescription refills and renewals amid COVID-19. (Black Press Media files)

COVID-19: Skip doc, see pharmacist for renewals

B.C. pharmacists authorized to issue prescription renewals and emergency refills

You don’t have to visit the doctor to renew or refill a prescription during the coronavirus pandemic.

In an effort to relieve the pressure on the health care system, the provincial government announced that pharmacists can assist with existing prescriptions.

“British Columbia’s community pharmacists are committed to remaining available to patients in need during this COVID-19 outbreak, as we have been for other public health crisis in the past,” the BC Pharmacy Association states.

“We remain steadfast in helping alleviate the burden on other parts of the health-care system and providing an adequate supply of medication for patients, who are being asked not to visit doctors’ offices for their prescription needs.”

Over the past 24 hours, many patients have been directly visiting pharmacies, generally for one of two reasons:

– They require an adequate supply of their regular medications in order to self-isolate; or

– They have run out of their regular medications and need more.

While pharmacists are committed to ensuring every patient has an adequate supply of medication, they remain bound by existing regulations when providing medications without a new prescription. The following represent some of the criteria pharmacists must follow:

– Patients must already be taking the medication or have an existing prescription for their medication. Pharmacists can not provide a new medication to a patient without a previous doctor’s prescription.

– Generally this service is provided for medications used to treat chronic conditions.

– Patients who have an expired prescription can have that filled by a pharmacist. The pharmacist will work with the patient to determine the appropriateness and the amount of supply to provide them.

Patients who have run out of their medication or need more, should call ahead to their regular pharmacy to determine whether a pharmacist can provide the additional supply.

Patients are encouraged not to stockpile medications. 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.

READ MORE: Borders, cases, bans: What you need to know about Canada and B.C.’s COVID-19 response

READ MORE: B.C. launches online COVID-19 self assessment tool


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