With many major highways from B.C.’s Interior still cut off from the Lower Mainland by flooding and landslides, Okanagan pharmacies have been rationing how much medication they’re dispensing at once in an effort to prevent running out.
That means, for example, that instead of giving a patient three months’ worth of medication at once, pharmacies might only be able to offer patients a one-month supply.
However, two pharmacies Global Okanagan spoke to on Friday were expecting to be resupplied by air before the situation becomes critical.
Shul said the problem is that for pharmacies throughout B.C., most medications are distributed out of warehouses based in the Lower Mainland.
Many pharmacies are used to getting daily or near-daily deliveries by truck and have not been receiving them.
“There is some stuff that we are running low on…we can kind of limit how much we are able to provide to each person to maintain that there is some for everybody to have access to,” Shul said.
So far, Shul said, his pharmacy has not had to turn any customers away.
“Actually, a lot of the local pharmacies are really good, they work together. It is part of the College of Pharmacists’ mandate that you try and help each other out with inventory so there has been an increase in volume of phone calls between pharmacies trying to transfer stock to each other to make sure that the patients are looked after,” Shul said.
Shul said a major drug supplier is trying to resupply pharmacies in bigger communities by air and has asked the businesses to order what they need in the short term.
The pharmacist expects that resupply to come before the store starts to run out of medication.
Nolan’s Pharmasave in Vernon was also expecting medications to be flown in on Friday.
Pharmacist Will Beley said the store’s supplies are “dwindling quickly.”
“It’s hard. It’s trying for the staff and everything just because there is this unknown,” Beley said, on Friday.
“Even today we don’t know that it is going to show up, but we are pretty sure it will. We received invoices saying that it is coming.”
The store typically gets medication delivered six days a week but hasn’t had a shipment since Saturday.
Nolan’s Pharmasave has also been dispensing shorter supplies of medication than it would normally give out so more patients can get the medication they need, but by Friday had run out of certain things.
Both pharmacies said patients had been understanding and willing to take shorter supplies of their medications during the highway closures.
Prior to Highway 3 reopening, the flooding and landslides had cut off all major B.C. highways between the two regions for days.
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to reflect the reopening of Highway 3. The story was originally published prior to the highway reopening.