COVID-19 and the responsible allocation of medications to patients
March 17, 2020 (Ottawa): As the COVID-19 global pandemic continues to evolve, pharmacists are becoming increasingly mindful about the need to carefully manage our drug supply to weather some of the long-term impacts of the disease across the globe.
Canadians rely on their medications and pharmacists are working to make sure that every patient has access to their medications when they need it.
While there are no known drug shortages that have been confirmed as a result of COVID-19, drug shortages have been occurring in Canada for many years. Public messaging that recommends patients stockpile medications could exacerbate this problem. Moreover, there have been some preliminary reports of rationing of orders by drug wholesalers and distributors.
Pharmacists are looking towards the long-term needs of Canadians and want to ensure that medications are dispensed responsibly during this uncertain time. To this end, pharmacists across Canada are encouraging Canadians not to stockpile medications or request early refills unless absolutely necessary. These actions could create unintended drug shortages and put other patients’ health at risk. Pharmacies are expected to remain open during the duration of the pandemic and they must be able to allocate medicines equitably to all their patients, especially to those who are the most vulnerable.
To ensure that Canada’s medication supply is managed responsibly, we are recommending a 30-day supply of medications for patients, unless clinically justified. We are also calling on governments, private payers, public health officials, regulators and other health care practitioners to support this temporary change in dispensing practice and to encourage Canadians to refrain from purchasing large quantities of medical supplies.
We must all work together to ensure we take care of Canada’s most vulnerable during this pandemic. Pharmacists’ first priority is the health and safety of their patients; therefore, we continue to strongly encourage patients to discuss their unique health and medication needs with their pharmacist.
About the Canadian Pharmacists Association
The Canadian Pharmacists Association (CPhA) is the uniting national voice of pharmacy and the pharmacist profession in Canada. As pharmacists undertake an enhanced role in the delivery of health care services, CPhA ensures that the profession is recognized as a national leader in health care, influencing the policies, programs, budgets and initiatives affecting the profession and the health of Canadians.