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Health and Community Services
June 23, 2010

New Authority for Pharmacists to Improve Patient Access

Recent changes to the pharmacy regulations and new standards of pharmacy practice adopted by the Newfoundland and Labrador Pharmacy Board will broaden the ability of pharmacists to provide prescription medications to better serve patients in Newfoundland and Labrador. The Honourable Jerome Kennedy, Minister of Health and Community Services, made the announcement today. Pharmacists may now refill, extend or adjust prescriptions, in accordance with the board’s standards of practice.

"These new regulations will allow the people of Newfoundland and Labrador to get the medicines they need from participating pharmacies even if they can't get to their doctor right away," said Minister Kennedy. "By more completely using the competencies of pharmacists, the regulations will improve access and create efficiencies in the healthcare system."

The changes will allow, with the patient’s consent, a pharmacist to refill or modify a prescription. For example, a pharmacist may change a prescription from a tablet to a liquid that may be easier for a patient to swallow. A pharmacist may now use his or her judgment to provide an emergency supply of medication, extend expired prescriptions for limited periods and make minor changes to prescriptions to avoid delays dispensing them to patients. When extending a prescription or making any change to a prescription, the pharmacist must notify the original prescriber. While the standards are now in effect, pharmacists are required to educate themselves fully on the standards and submit a declaration form to the Pharmacy Board before providing these services to patients.

"Pharmacists are the experts in drug therapy and they have always used their knowledge and skills to select and provide appropriate medication to their patients, but in a limited manner," said Keith Bailey, Chair of the Newfoundland and Labrador Pharmacy Board. "This regulation will allow pharmacists to more fully utilize their medication management expertise in the interest of the health and well-being of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. This is an excellent example of how collaboration among health professionals can better serve the needs of patients without compromising safety."

Standards of pharmacy practice adopted by the board spell out the limits and conditions under which pharmacists can exercise their professional judgement with respect to medication management. These standards have been developed in consultation with the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association, the Association of Registered Nurses, the Pharmacists’ Association of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the Department of Health and Community Services.

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Media contacts:

Tansy Mundon
Director of Communications
Department of Health and Community Services
709-729-1377, 685-2646
Donald F. Rowe
Newfoundland & Labrador Pharmacy Board
Apothecary Hall

2010 06 23                                                       10:00 a.m.

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