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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS - 30 Day Supply
Tuesday, April 7, 2020

WHY ARE PRESCRIPTIONS BEING REDUCED TO 30 DAYS?

  • Pharmacies in New Brunswick and across Canada have seen a significant surge in demand for medical supplies and medications as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic (volumes driven up more than 200% over historical demand).
  • The New Brunswick College of Pharmacists (the regulatory authority for pharmacy practice) has DIRECTED ALL PHARMACISTS to provide patients with a 30-day supply of medications during the pandemic.
  • The directive is ESSENTIAL to help reduce the risk of an absolute shortage of medications.
  • New Brunswickers MUST WORK TOGETHER through this crisis. Pharmacists need the support of government and the public at this time.

HOW LONG WILL THE 30-DAY LIMIT LAST?

WHY ARE PHARMACIES CHARGING DISPENSING FEES?

  • Pharmacists have a responsibility to ensure medications are safe and appropriate EVERY TIME they dispense.
  • There are costs incurred and additional work required by pharmacists to dispense all prescriptions, new and refills, and these are covered by the dispensing fee.
  • That assessment and the associated processes and supplies are covered by the dispensing fee.
  • COVID-19 has created additional costs for pharmacy related to managing safely for all New Brunswickers. This includes but is not limited to implementing controls and services to avoid the risk of spread of COVID-19, such as screening processes, physical protective measures such plexiglass barriers and providing delivery.
  • At the request of Public Health, pharmacists are helping to reduce non-essential physician visits by extending expired prescriptions and providing emergency prescriptions. Community pharmacists are also dealing with an unprecedented volume of interactions with members of the public because access to other healthcare providers is restricted. These interactions involve questions pertaining to COVID-19, minor ailments assessments and administration of appropriate injections. None of this is compensated by Medicare as it would be for other healthcare professionals.
  • Most pharmacies in NB, especially those in rural settings, are operated by independent business owners who, like others, are struggling with the financial burdens of COVID-19.
  • It is not reasonable to expect pharmacies to waive dispensing fees, especially when these professionals are already doing their part and are on the frontline of this pandemic.

WHY ARE PHARMACIES CHARGING COPAYS?

  • A copayment, or copay, is a flat fee or percentage fee or combination of the two, charged for a prescription drug.
  • It is different from a dispensing fee.
  • If a pharmacy waives copays, they may in some cases be GIVING AWAY a portion of the cost of the drug as well.
  • It is not reasonable to expect pharmacies to waive copays, especially when their pharmacy professionals are already doing their part on the frontline of this pandemic.
  • The copay is predetermined by a MEMBER’S HEALTH INSURANCE PLAN (not by the pharmacy), and it is within the jurisdiction of those insurance companies to make changes to those copays.
  • The New Brunswick government implemented an interim suspension of any additional copayments to New Brunswick Prescription Drug Plan Benefit recipients stemming from the need to move to 30-day supplies on medications. The NBPA urges all private drug plans and employer groups to consider similar interim suspensions of private insurance copayments and deductibles that result from monthly dispensing.

THIS MEANS MORE PHARMACY VISITS. WHAT ABOUT PHYSICAL DISTANCING?

  • Pharmacy professionals recognize the need for physical distancing, but the 30-day limit is critical, to help protect the drug supply.
  • Pharmacies have implemented many controls to manage physical distancing.
  • Ask your pharmacy about delivery or curb-side pickup.
  • Do not go to a pharmacy if you are sick.
  • Your pharmacist will work with you to keep you safe.

WHAT CAN I DO?

  • Be kind and patient and know that your pharmacists are doing their best to keep everyone safe.