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Some B.C. pharmacies lift 30-day limit on prescriptions
VANCOUVER -- Earlier this month, Grace Gould, a pensioner who takes four medications, was facing a huge increase in prescription dispensing fees when pharmacies limited refills to a 30-day supply because of COVID-19. That meant instead of getting a 90-day supply she'd have to renew every month, tripling the fees she would have to pay. Now, some pharmacies have lifted that restriction.
“It’s going to save so many seniors so much money. We just can’t afford it at this kind of time, with prices of groceries and everything going up,” she said.
Pharmacies started limiting customers to a single month’s supply because people were stocking up. London Drugs was seeing up to five times the usual number of prescription requests and was worried about running out, as the global supply chain was also at risk.
“We were not able to fill everyone’s order,” said Chris Chiew, the general manager of pharmacy at London Drugs.
Other provinces mandated the 30-day limit, but the B.C. College of Pharmacists left it up to each pharmacy to decide whether or not they wanted to restrict how much each customer could get at one time.
CTV News Vancouver reached out to London Drugs, Shoppers Drug Mart, Pharmasave, Save-On-Foods and Urban Fare pharmacies; all are now dispensing 90-day refills on most drugs, with some limits in place for drugs with ongoing shortages.
The BC Pharmacy Association said in a statement on Monday that its members are seeing improvements.
"While many pharmacies in B.C. have not yet seen a total easing of the distribution supply problems that happened in early to mid-March, members tell us that the situation is balancing and that more “normal” orders are being received. Where possible, pharmacists who now have adequate supplies are dispensing the full 90-day supply of medications patients would traditionally receive."
Chiew said his team made the decision after the global supply chain started to right itself a couple of weeks ago.
“We found that the production in China has actually increased quite quickly,” he said, adding India is now allowing some exports to get through. Seventy per cent of Canadian medications and their ingredients come from those two countries alone.
But it’s still not the time to stock up or hoard, he warns.
"If everybody just gets their three-month supply, then we will be able to keep up with that demand," Chiew explained.
And that’s what Gould was waiting to hear.
"I think actually this is wonderful news," she said.