Canadian pharmacists are now limiting the amount of prescription medications they dispense. (CBC)

Prescription drugs: more patience now required

As citizens improvise and governments legislate in bids to stave off the ramifications of COVID-19, sometimes it feels like we’re all still riffing on those dance steps we learned–or tried to learn–back when we were young.

Two steps forward, one step back.

Or was it one step forward and two steps back?

For many of us, it was never all that clear.

But we carried on.

As we do now, dealing with COVID-19–including that very big need to self-isolate and keep our distance from the people we meet.

“Stay home!” goes the dictum.

Easier said than done.

Take getting our prescription drugs.

It’s always pretty much been a given across the country that monthly refills could be doubled up.

One trip to the pharmacy got you two months of pills (and sometimes, three, assuming you have the needed dough).

Not any more. 

CBC News reports today that Canadian pharmacies are complying with a call by the Canadian Pharmacists Association to limit how much medication can be dispensed.

“The goal is to stop people from refilling prescriptions early and to ensure life-saving drugs don’t run short when supply chains are vulnerable,” the story says, noting that most active ingredients for drugs come from India and China and medical supply chains have been disrupted by the spread of COVID-19.

The Nova Scotia government announced that pharmacists can now renew prescriptions for most medications and the province will cover the assessment fee. (Craig Paisley/CBC)

 Mina Tadrous, a pharmacist and researcher in Toronto who monitors pharmaceutical supplies, says in the article that he is worried Canadians will start stockpiling drugs after watching what has been unfolding in the U.S. and other regions as the virus spreads. 

Pharmacists, he said, are concerned about drugs such as life-saving inhalers that people might stockpile based on misinformation circulating about potential treatments for COVID-19.

“It’s that relationship of how people are reacting rather than the actual supply of medications,” he said. 

Dr. Jacalyn Duffin of Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., told CBC News that since China and India produce 80 per cent of active ingredients of prescription drugs sold in North America, supply disruptions are going to come.

That’s the bad news she shared.

The good news? 

“I think that the coronavirus outbreak is a big wake-up call for us to pay attention to our drug shortages that exist already and to pay attention to where our drugs come from,” she said.

The other bits of good news: It’s spring, so that extra trip to the pharmacy might not be all that bad.

Just remember to keep your distance from all you meet–persons and/or toxic surfaces.

Plus, most pharmacies deliver.

Just don’t forget to give them a proper heads-up.

With files from CBC News (Vik Adhopia)

Categories: Economy, Health
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