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Respect 30-day prescription rule as possible shortages loom: N.B. pharmacists

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Pharmacists and doctors in New Brunswick are encouraging people to respect the 30-day supply limit for prescriptions. Callum Smith reports.

People are being urged to respect the limitation of 30-day prescription refills because it is a “necessary measure to protect the drug supply for all,” says the New Brunswick Pharmacists’ Association and New Brunswick Medical Society.

“This is a temporary but necessary measure that will help pharmacists manage prescription inventory to reduce the risk of absolute shortages in the coming weeks,” the association wrote in an open letter to MLAs.

“Even with that measure in place, suppliers are already telling pharmacists to expect delays and shortages of some medications.”

READ MORE: NS, NB pharmacies restrict medication fills to avoid shortages during COVID-19

The groups are asking for patience from members of the public as they try to maintain supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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“Please do not direct your frustration on the health-care professionals who are doing their best to take care of your needs and those of your families while risking their own health and safety, as well as that of their loved ones,” a joint news release stated.

The pharmacists association says it understands people could pay more for copay and dispensing fees.

Click to play video 'Surrey pharmacy implements COVID-19 procedures' Surrey pharmacy implements COVID-19 procedures
Surrey pharmacy implements COVID-19 procedures

People with coverage from the New Brunswick Drug Plan will only be charged co-payment for the initial refill, meaning if you have a 90-day prescription that’s picked up in three intervals, you’ll only pay one co-payment.

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That’s a measure the association is encouraging private drug plans and employer groups to consider.

Pharmacists say they too are concerned about more public exposure during the pandemic, but safety measures are being put in place.

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READ MORE: Some Canadians to pay additional pharmacy dispensing fees due to coronavirus restrictions

Many pharmacies are offering free delivery or using drive-thrus to help cut down on the visits, the association says.

Other safety measures are also being put in place, such as installing plexiglass barriers.

The New Brunswick Medical Society says doctors are still prescribing longer prescriptions.

“The patient would not have to recontact their family doctor to get the next 30 days or the next 30 days filled,” says Dr. Chris Goodyear, the society’s president and a general surgeon in Fredericton.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

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