A woman gets a consultation from a pharmacist at a Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacy in Whitehorse on May 28. New regulations passed on May 22 will allow pharmacists to administer vaccines and extend prescription refills, among other things. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Pharmacists will exercise more authority starting this summer

New regulations passed last week

Yukon pharmacists will soon have more control over the way they go about their work.

A new regulation, which passed on May 22, will cut through red tape, allowing pharmacists to administer vaccines and extend prescription refills, among other things.

Pharmacists won’t have to rely on a patient’s physician to the same degree, freeing up time and, as the president of the Yukon Pharmacists Association said, saving money in the long run.

“It will allow pharmacists to expand their services,” said Josianne Gauthier. “Pharmacists will be able to extend prescription refills to avoid treatment interruptions.”

The regulation comes into effect on August 1.

“I think this is great news for the health-care system because it will alleviate the need for people to go to the emergency department when they don’t have to,” Gauthier said.

Prescriptions will be able to be modified in order to ensure they are optimal for patients, she added.

“For example, the pharmacist will be able to substitute an asthma puffer for another one, so it’s easier to use, or pharmacists will be able to switch a medication for another similar drug so it’s covered by a patient’s insurance.”

The current legislation has a timestamp of 1955. It’s out of swing with the times, Gauthier said.

“We had to contact the patient’s physician all the time in order to do that, so that creates a lot of time loss and it’s counterproductive, it’s not efficient. It’s very hard to get ahold of doctors sometimes on the weekends or in evenings, so giving the authority to pharmacists to make those changes is a better use of our skills.

“This is something we’ve been waiting for for a long time,” she continued, noting that the association took on an advisory role when the regulation was being put together. “It’s a step forward. It’s very positive.”

Nancy Meagher, the Yukon’s director of professional licensing and regulatory affairs, said there haven’t been substantive changes to the legislation since the 1950s.

“It was important to be able to modernize and allow pharmacists to be able to practise to their full scope of practice,” she said. “In doing so, it also brings this regulation under the Health Professions Act and kind of coordinates the regulation with other health professionals.”

Pharmacists and rural permit holders must follow standards of practice, a code of ethics, undergo 15 hours of continuing education per year and a jurisprudence exam, among other things, according to a fact sheet

Regulations guiding pharmacies will follow in 2020, Meagher said.

“Some potential areas of regulation are licensing requirements for pharmacy owners or managers, physical space requirements for pharmacies, storage and handling of drugs and record keeping and transfer,” said Odile Nelson, spokesperson with the Yukon Department of Community Services, in a written statement.

Contact Julien Gignac at julien.gignac@yukon-news.com

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