Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Now Pharmacists In Canada Can Write Prescriptions!

Pharmacists in New Brunswick, Canada could soon be doling out prescriptions for pharmaceutical drugs, based on the new bill that was put forward this Tuesday.

This government-sponsored bill to amend the Pharmacy Act was promised sometime back in the in the provincial health plan and was tabled on behalf of the New Brunswick Pharmaceutical Society.

According to the health ministry officials the bill has been introduced as a step in the direction of enabling the health-care providers to play a bigger part in offering patients an increased access to health care, reports cbcnews.

Though, the new bill doesn’t allow pharmacists to play doctors by diagnosing the disease, they would be allowed to write prescriptions when some of the medical conditions that have already been diagnosed by doctors. Some of the drugs for which patients could see a pharmacist include anti allergic drugs for allergies, asthma, anti-diabetic drugs for diabetes and high cholesterol.

This facility could come in handy when a patient for any reason isn’t able to see a doctor, for instance a patient who is on drugs for hypertension (high blood pressure) for 5 years and runs out of her stock of hypertensive drugs before she’s able to meet the doctor. In such a case she can visit the pharmacist and procure her prescription and supplies till she’s able to meet the doctor the next time.

For now the legislation applies to Alberta and is further being worked upon for introduction in British Columbia (B.C.), Province of Prince Edward Island (P.E.I.) and Nova Scotia, Canada. After enhancing the role of the pharmacists the, government is considering amendments to the roles of nurses and midwives as a part of the publicly funded health system.

The new convenience is being looked up to, as it can make up for the times when a General Practitioner (GP) isn’t available when you need him, and as a result many individuals have to visit walk-in clinics and emergency rooms. However, there are concerns as sometimes things could go wrong when inappropriate prescription is handed out. Consequently, the condition of the patient could worsen and they might end up in an emergency department of a hospital.

While the move does appear to be a modern one, some opine that the facility has a potential to be misused. For instance, if this convenience is extended to include CNS drugs that affect the central nervous system such as opioid pain relief drugs, it stands a greater chance for abuse.

The move seems to be an effective one in improving access to health care, at the same time, the possible pitfalls of such a measure need to be carefully considered so that patients don’t suffer.

1 comment:

Austin Lee said...

I'm pleased to hear about this development. Pharmacists like many other highly trained healthcare professionals are fully capable of providing expanded professional and clinical services. It seems like this initial foray into prescribing practice is a small, yet reasonable first step.