Filling Prescriptions To Get Easier

    McGuinty Government Supports Innovative Models For Drug Dispensing

    TORONTO, May 6 /CNW/ -


    Ontario is proposing to make it more convenient for patients to get their
drug prescriptions filled by allowing remote dispensing across the province.
    Legislation to be introduced in the coming days would, if passed, amend
the Drug and Pharmacies Regulations Act (DPRA) and the Ontario Drug Benefit
Act (ODBA) to allow prescriptions to be filled without the pharmacist being
physically present. This remote dispensing could be done by:

    -  Patients using a dispensing machine to fill a prescription while
       speaking to the pharmacist through built-in video conferencing
    -  Pharmacy technicians dispensing drugs under the supervision of a
       pharmacist who is connected by a video link-up
    -  Mail order where medications for chronic conditions are dispensed and
       delivered regularly to patients' homes.

    Some of the benefits associated with remote dispensing would include:

    -  Increasing access to medication and improving convenience for patients
       (especially those in remote areas of the province)
    -  Supporting new business development and made-in-Ontario technologies
    -  Potentially reducing the cost of drug distribution

    To help ensure patient safety, the Ontario College of Pharmacists would
be responsible for accrediting, monitoring and enforcing the regulatory
requirements for these new types of drug dispensing systems.


    "Remote drug dispensing is beginning to emerge as a viable alternative to
the traditional pharmacy. We want to make it easier for patients to get the
medications they need, and we want to do it in a way that ensures patient
safety and is cost effective."
    - David Caplan, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care


    -  As a pilot project that began in June 2008, Sunnybrook Health Sciences
       Centre has two dispensing machines in use - one for outpatients and
       one for inpatients.
    -  Made-in-Ontario technology is being used in the pilot
    -  Narcotics will not be available through remote dispensing capabilities


    Find out more about Ontario Public Drug Programs

                                                      Disponible en français




    Under the Drug and Pharmacies Regulation Act (DPRA), pharmacies must be
accredited by the Ontario College of Pharmacists and are required to meet
certain standards of operation. One such requirement is that dispensing
medication be done under the direct supervision of a pharmacist who is
physically present in the pharmacy.
    The proposed DPRA amendments would enable the use of remote dispensing
technology while at the same time ensuring accountability and the protection
of the public.
    The new dispensing technology is currently being tested at Sunnybrook
Health Sciences Centre in Toronto.

    Here is how a medication dispensing machine works:

    -  the machine makes a scan of the prescription, which is transmitted to
       the pharmacist at a separate site who receives and processes the
    -  the pharmacist will approve the order and provide relevant information
       including possible side effects to the patient via the two-way video
       teleconference capability
    -  provided the medication is stocked in the machine, which can hold up
       to 340 medications, the appropriate drug is identified through radio
       frequency identification tags on the product, and
    -  the prescription is once again verified by the remote pharmacist, and
       then dispensed to the patient.


    The proposed legislation, if passed, would require that a pharmacist be
available at the time that the prescription is submitted by the patient to
review and approve the prescription, monitor the dispensing, and counsel the
patent with regard to the drug product. In other words, the pharmacist would
perform the same pharmacy services he or she currently provides but through a
virtual medium with the use of technology.
    The Ontario College of Pharmacists would be responsible for accrediting,
monitoring and enforcing the regulatory requirements for these new types of
drug dispensing. The safe practice requirements for a remote dispensing
location would be similar to the requirements applicable to a traditional
brick and mortar pharmacy. The College is responsible for bringing forward
regulations under the DPRA. This may include regulating the operation and
maintenance to operate such locations, or the type of drug products that may
be dispensed by way of remote dispensing - for example, prohibiting narcotics
or other controlled substances to be dispensed remotely.


    Introducing new technology into pharmacy operations may help to:

    -  make medications readily available where they are most often
       prescribed; and therefore, may enhance patient access to medications
    -  provide convenience for people in remote (rural/northern) communities


    In keeping with its commitment to attract new business development within
the province and to facilitate technological innovation within health care,
remote dispensing would bring innovation to Ontario.

                                                      Disponible en français

For further information:

For further information: Steve Erwin, Minister's Office, (416) 326-3986;
Andrew Morrison, Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, (416) 314-6197

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Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care

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