Albertans will soon benefit from expanded pharmacist services

    EDMONTON, March 30 /CNW/ - Albertans will begin to benefit from new
pharmacist services after April 1, 2007, when pharmacists come under new
legislation. The legislation gives pharmacists the authority to prescribe
Schedule 1 drugs and blood products, a new tool to help them improve drug
    Jeff Whissell, president of the Alberta College of Pharmacists, explains,
"Under the new legislation, Albertans will have better access to their drug
therapy and will benefit from greater use of pharmacists' knowledge and
    The legislation gives pharmacists the authority to adapt an existing
prescription or provide a drug for a patient they know if that patient isn't
able to see their physician immediately. "Many pharmacists currently perform
these functions, and they have for many years, to help patients who've run out
of their medication," notes Whissell. The new legislation formally recognizes
the importance of this service.
    "Expanding the roles of pharmacists and other health professionals to
fully utilize their training and competencies will benefit Albertans by having
more health care providers available to provide a greater variety of
services," Health and Wellness Minister Dave Hancock says.
    Good communication is the key to good health care. Whissell recommends
that you talk to your pharmacist about what these changes mean for you. Each
pharmacist will decide how and when they will make these new opportunities
part of their practice.
    "The changes to pharmacist practice do not mean your physician is out of
the picture either," emphasizes Whissell. "You will still have to see your
doctor regularly. In fact, pharmacists will insist on it! Pharmacists will
work closely with you and your entire health team, including your physician,
to ensure you get appropriate drug therapy."
    The process will be an evolutionary one, he adds, meaning that the new
services will be introduced gradually as pharmacists begin to assume new
roles. First, all Alberta pharmacists must complete an orientation to the new
legislation. "Many areas of our legislation have changed, as have the
standards under which we practise," notes Whissell. "It's important for every
pharmacist to understand how they need to change their practice to comply with
the new legislation."
    Later this year, some pharmacists will begin initiating new drug therapy
and managing chronic conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure, in
collaboration with other health professionals. They will only be able to
assume this level of care after being evaluated and approved by the Alberta
College of Pharmacists. The college plans to begin implementing the
application process this fall.
    No matter what changes your pharmacist chooses to make as a result of the
new legislation, Albertans will notice one change province-wide: pharmacists
will ask for your personal health number and other personal information, like
address, telephone number and date of birth, as they meet the requirement to
have complete patient records.
    Whissell says pharmacists will enhance their patient records as a means
of addressing your health needs better and more safely, and in preparation for
the implementation of the provincial electronic health record (EHR). In
addition, when an Albertan requests a medication kept in the dispensary that
does not require a prescription, pharmacists will record that medication in
the patient's health record. "In less than two years, all persons using health
services in Alberta will be included in the EHR. No matter where you are in
Alberta, pharmacists and physicians will be able to review your medications on
the EHR so that they can make better decisions about your health."
    "We are excited about pharmacists contributing more to the health of
Albertans," declares Whissell. "An important feature of pharmacists' services
is their relationship with each patient and with other members of the
patient's health team. When everyone works together, Albertans benefit from
the sum of all the professionals' knowledge and skills."

    The Alberta College of Pharmacists is the regulatory and licensing body
for Alberta's pharmacists and pharmacies.

For further information:

For further information: Greg Eberhart, Registrar, (780) 990-0321; Lynn
Otteson, Communications Leader, (780) 990-0321; Alberta College of
Pharmacists, 1200 - 10303 Jasper Avenue, Edmonton, AB, T5J 3N6

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