Government & policy
Nova Scotia gives pharmacists greater
HALIFAX – Recent changes to the
pharmacy regulations will broaden the ability of pharmacists to provide
prescription medications to better serve Nova Scotians. Pharmacists can
now refill, extend or adjust prescriptions, and prescribe certain drugs
so they can be covered by patients’ insurance plans.
“These new regulations will ensure that Nova Scotians can get the
medicines they need even if they can’t get to their doctor right away,”
said Health Minister Maureen MacDonald. “By more completely using the
competencies of pharmacists, the regulations will improve access and
create efficiencies in the healthcare system.”
A pharmacist can now refill or modify a prescription using his or her
judgment, for example, changing it from a tablet to a liquid if that
will be easier for a patient to swallow.
Pharmacists have been able to extend expired prescriptions until a
patient could see their doctor, for up to 30 days. Now they can continue
prescriptions for more than 30 days if appropriate, provide certain
medications to patients when their doctor is not available, and change
prescriptions to avoid delays dispensing them to patients.
Pharmacists in Nova Scotia can now also prescribe drugs typically sold
from behind the counter or from the area right in front of the
pharmacist. This change will help patients whose medical plan covers the
cost of these drugs only if they are prescribed.
“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 Susan Wedlake,
registrar of the Nova Scotia College of Pharmacists. “This regulation
will allow pharmacists to more fully utilize their medication management
expertise in the interest of the health and well-being of Nova Scotians.”
When making any change to a prescription, the pharmacist must notify the
person who prescribed it.
The regulations also allow the college of pharmacists to develop
standards of practice for further changes to pharmacists’ work. Once the
standards are complete, likely this fall, pharmacists will be able to
prescribe drugs, including those that can now be prescribed only by
doctors, dentists or nurse practitioners, to treat certain conditions.
“The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia supports this
regulation and looks forward to working with the college of pharmacists
in developing the standards that will guide practice in this area,” said
Dr. Cameron Little, the college’s registrar and CEO. “This is an
excellent example of how collaboration among health professions can
better serve the needs of patients without compromising safety.”
The Nova Scotia College of Pharmacists will develop the standards of
practice in consultation with the college of physicians and surgeons and
other health professional colleges, as appropriate. Doctors, dentists,
nurse practitioners, some optometrists and midwives now have the
authority to prescribe medications in Nova Scotia.
Published February 11,2010