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Tuesday, March 17, 2020

The New Brunswick Pharmacists’ Association (NBPA) and the New Brunswick College of Pharmacists (NBCP) are working together, as well as with government officials and other healthcare associations, to ensure pharmacists have the tools and resources necessary to continue to support New Brunswickers as our province responds to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a vital first step, the New Brunswick College of Pharmacists has issued this directive: With rare exceptions and according to the pharmacist’s judgement, pharmacists will provide patients with medication for 30 days only.

While there are currently no early warning signs of a global drug shortage, pharmacists are looking toward the long-term needs of New Brunswickers and want to ensure that medications are dispensed responsibly during this uncertain time. Providing patients with a 30-day supply of medication will help pharmacists continue to ensure a stable supply for all as this situation evolves. Requesting early refills unless absolutely necessary or stockpiling medications 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. 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.

In addition to our 150 hospital pharmacists, New Brunswick has 900 licensed pharmacists and 250 pharmacy technicians at approximately 240 community pharmacies. Community pharmacists are the most accessible health care providers and have a critical role to play in identifying, reporting, and managing potential cases of COVID-19. As the first point of contact many New Brunswickers have with our health care system, pharmacists are on the front-lines of this COVID-19 pandemic as they continue to do their best under stressful circumstances to ensure patients get their medications and access other necessary pharmacist’ services to manage their overall health.

We ask New Brunswickers to continue to be patient and respectful of pharmacists and their staff if you have to wait longer than usual to have a prescription filled or to speak with a pharmacist. We also ask New Brunswickers to help keep our pharmacists and their staff healthy BY NOT GOING TO ANY PHARMACY if you are showing symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, new onset of cough or difficulty breathing) or in the 14 days before symptom onset, you have:

• been outside the country, or

• you have been in close contact with a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19, or

• you have been in close contact with a person with acute respiratory illness who has been to a COVID-19 impacted area

Instead, please conduct a self assessment and call 811 if appropriate. We also remind New Brunswickers to practise good hygiene including proper handwashing, coughing and sneezing into tissues or elbows, avoid touching your face, to regularly clean commonly touched surfaces and to stay home if you can. Many pharmacies offer free delivery services for prescription medications as well as online options to order refills and otherwise manage your medications. Pharmacists are also available to talk to you by email and telephone.

As our resources are fully engaged in helping to ensure the safety of pharmacy professionals and ensuring New Brunswickers continue to have access to medications and pharmacy services, neither the NBPA nor the NBCP will be providing additional comment on this statement at this time.

Challenging days are ahead, but we want to reassure New Brunswickers that our pharmacy professionals will remain on the front-lines – as they always do – to support you during this extraordinary time.

Janet MacDonnell
Interim Executive Director
New Brunswick Pharmacist Association

Sam Lanctin
New Brunswick College of Pharmacists

About the New Brunswick Pharmacists’ Association
The New Brunswick Pharmacists’ Association is the voice of pharmacists in the province and is committed to providing leadership for the profession and to improving the health of New Brunswickers.

About the New Brunswick College of Pharmacists
The New Brunswick College of Pharmacists is responsible for regulating the practice of pharmacy in New Brunswick. The principal object and duty of the College is to promote and protect the health and well-being of the public, in collaboration with other health disciplines.