Ask Your Pharmacist

February 24, 2021
Q:

My friend’s pharmacist flavoured some medicine for her child so that it didn’t taste so bad, but my pharmacist said he could not do that. Why can’t all pharmacists do this?

A:

Many pharmacies offer different services and not all are able to compound. This fact may come as a surprise to you, so let me try to explain the pharmacy services that exist in New Brunswick and the choices you have when selecting a pharmacy.

There are approximately 232 pharmacies located in communities throughout New Brunswick, including some that provide a vast majority of their prescriptions via an online service. Pharmacy is a self-regulated profession which follows provincial legislation and Standards of Practice. The legislation is contained in An Act Respecting the New Brunswick College of Pharmacists Act and its regulations). The Model Standards of Practice, one for pharmacists and another for pharmacy technicians, was published by the National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities (NAPRA) and adopted by the New Brunswick College of Pharmacists. These documents lay out a standard of care that pharmacists and pharmacy technicians must adhere to, and describe how pharmacies will operate to provide medication and other health related services to New Brunswickers.

How do you decide which pharmacy is the best fit for you, especially during such challenging economic times?  This decision may include comparing the cost of your prescription(s) at one pharmacy to another. Part of the cost you pay per prescription includes a professional fee. The professional fee includes the cost involved with dispensing your medication. It also involves the time it takes the pharmacist to evaluate your medication therapy to make sure that it is safe, effective, and appropriate for your particular situation. The professional fee may be set at the individual store level, or it may be a corporate determination.

Because your medications play such an important role in your overall health, in some cases a lifesaving role, you may decide that cost is not the most important factor in your decision. When choosing a pharmacy, it is important that you feel comfortable with your pharmacy staff.  After all, few things are more personal than the information you share with your pharmacist about your medications and your health. If COVID-19 has demonstrated anything, it is that pharmacists remain a readily accessible health care professional available to you. Your relationship with us is important to us.  

Which specific pharmacy services are important to you and which of these services are provided at your pharmacy (i.e., adding a flavour to your child’s medication)? Additional services that may be included at your pharmacy include the ability to perform yearly medication reviews, administration of injections and immunization, assessing and prescribing medications for minor ailments, continuing care of a prescription that is out of refills, adherence packaging (i.e., blister packs), opioid agonist therapy, after-hours service, blood pressure and blood glucose monitoring, and more.

Pharmacists can access prescription medications filled anywhere in the province via the government’s Electronic Health Record (i.e., Drug Information System). This allows pharmacists to see your complete medication profile even if you have your prescriptions filled at different locations. However, there is still something to be said for being cared for at one pharmacy. This gives you the chance to get to know your pharmacist, so that they can get to know you and your individual health needs, and to keep an eye on the bigger picture, which is your overall health.

If you use an online pharmacy outside of New Brunswick, find out whether other healthcare professionals will be able to see those medications for review when necessary. New Brunswick pharmacists do not have electronic access to prescriptions filled outside the province. If you require an emergency room visit, will your health care providers have access to this list of medications in the event you are unable to provide it?  

Regardless of which pharmacy you choose, New Brunswick pharmacists and their teams strive to provide the best care for you.

Dr Kevin Duplisea (PharmD BSc. Pharm, BSc. ACPR) is a pharmacist at Sharp’s Corner Drugstore in Sussex, New Brunswick. His opinions expressed in this newspaper are published for educational and informational purposes only, and are not intended as a diagnosis, treatment or as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Send your questions to AskYourNBPharmacist@gmail.com.