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Coronavirus: Alberta eases 30-day limit on prescription refills

File: A shelf of drugs at a pharmacy Thursday, March 8, 2012 in Quebec City.
File: A shelf of drugs at a pharmacy Thursday, March 8, 2012 in Quebec City. Jacques Boissinot, The Canadian Press

Alberta pharmacists will soon be able to dispense larger quantities of prescription drugs, after a 30-day limit was put in place amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Starting on June 15, pharmacists in Alberta can once again hand out up to a 100-day supply of prescription drugs.

“We are confident that now is the time to adjust our guidance to help Albertans make fewer visits to pharmacies and to support pharmacists in reducing the volume of prescriptions to fill,” Health Minister Tyler Shandro said in a media release Wednesday.

The move to limit prescriptions to a one-month supply was announced in Marh amid concerns of world-wide drug supply shortages. This made sure pharmacies could supply people with the prescriptions they needed and the move was backed by pharmacy organizations such as the Alberta Pharmacists’ Association and the Alberta College of Pharmacy.

READ MORE: Alberta senior worried about extra fees after prescriptions limited to 1-month supply

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The province said Wednesday that while supply levels appear to be returning to normal, some drugs are still in limited supply. Pharmacists are asked to use their professional judgement and dispense a 30-day supply for drugs that continue to have shortages.

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“Drug shortages are an increasing problem for Canadians, and in some cases, COVID has made this worse,” said Greg Eberhart with the Alberta College of Pharmacy.

“Therefore, as Alberta Health relaxes this policy, pharmacists should use their professional judgment to limit the dispensed quantities of specific drugs that continue to be short, and continue their commitment to appropriate drug therapy. We will continue to work with Alberta Health and other provincial and national partners to monitor drug shortages.”

Health matters: Seniors concerned over prescription refills being limited to 30 day supply
Health matters: Seniors concerned over prescription refills being limited to 30 day supply

A drug shortage list is posted for pharmacists on the Alberta Blue Cross website for reference. The province said Albertans can also access a list of drugs in short supply on the Drug Shortages Canada website.

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READ MORE: Pharmacists get billing code to screen Albertans for COVID-19; asked to limit drug supplies

The province said it will work with pharmacies to continue to monitor the drug supply and if a shortage presents itself again, limits could be reintroduced.