Pharmacists to assess Albertans for COVID-19, manage drug supply

by Morinville News Staff

A new pharmacy service provides Albertans with another way to access information and advice about COVID-19. The service is initially limited to screening and the provision of information about COVID-19.

“We need to maximize the capabilities of our health professionals at this time,” Minister of Health Tyler Shandro said in a release Thursday. “Pharmacists have knowledge and experience in infectious diseases such as influenza and in helping Albertans with their questions and concerns. This measure acknowledges pharmacists’ role in the health system and in supporting patients.”

Alberta Health and the Alberta Pharmacists’ Association will remain in close collaboration on expanding the role, should the need arise, including direct referral for COVID-19 testing and supporting Health Link 811 in addressing Albertans’ information needs.

“We commend the quick action and responsiveness of Alberta Health to establish a compensation structure to support the care that Alberta’s community pharmacists are providing during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Alberta Pharmacists’ Association CEO Margaret Wing. “Pharmacists play an essential role in the management, assessment, and screening of patient health indicators and helping patients understand their COVID-19 risk is an important support for Albertans.”

The Alberta government is also recommending that pharmacies have the discretion to provide a maximum 30-day supply of prescription drugs. Because some Albertans will need to refill their prescriptions more often than usual, they should speak with their pharmacist about when it is appropriate to do so.

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To assist with the added cost, those with Alberta government-sponsored Coverage for Seniors and Non-Group coverage programs will pay a lower co-payment of up to $8 per prescription for a 30-day supply. The current co-payment is up to $25 per prescription. Albertans with other coverage should consult with their benefits provider.

Other provinces, including Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec, have either taken action or are in the process of implementing measures to protect drug supply chain stability.

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