RxA readies pharmacists, public for April 1 prescribing authority

    EDMONTON, March 14 /CNW/ - The Alberta Pharmacists' Association (RxA) is
launching a public information campaign this week to inform pharmacists and
the general public about what to expect when pharmacists' prescribing
authority comes into effect April 1.
    RxA's "Talk to Your Pharmacist" campaign highlights the fact that
pharmacy services offered as of April 1 will continue to vary from pharmacist
to pharmacist as has always been the case. Pharmacy clients are encouraged to
talk to their pharmacists about what services are available in that pharmacy.
    "We expect that prescribing authority for pharmacists will herald a shift
in public perception of pharmacists as drug dispensers to health care
providers invested in the care of their clients who are making a valuable
contribution to the health care system," said Cameron Johnston, acting CEO for
    Pharmacies throughout the province will receive this week RxA public
information handouts designed for pharmacists and the general public. The
public handout will address questions such as what the new changes will allow
pharmacists to do, and in what situations pharmacists will be allowed to
prescribe. (See backgrounder) Pharmacists will also be outfitted with buttons
saying, "Talk to Your Pharmacist."
    "We want to ensure the public knows that when they step into a pharmacy
as of April 1, it's important they talk to their pharmacist to determine what
expanded services may or may not be available to them in that pharmacy," said
    "We also want to remind the public that pharmacists have always, and will
continue to, act in the best interest of their clients. Based on a client
assessment, a pharmacist may choose not to prescribe medication if another
intervention is deemed appropriate, such a providing a non-prescription
medication or referring the client to a doctor or other health care provider,"
added Johnston.
    Within the new prescribing authority, Alberta pharmacists may choose
which expanded services they add to their practice - such as prescribing
medication or administering drugs by injection.
    To obtain a copy of the public handout, go to:
    Alberta pharmacists made history last November with the Alberta
government's proclamation of the Health Professions Act (HPA) and Pharmacy and
Drug Act (PDA). As of April 1, 2007, Alberta pharmacists will be able to
prescribe some drug treatments, continue prescriptions made by other health
practitioners and administer injectable drug treatments, such as vaccines.
Overall, Alberta residents will have better access to drug treatments,
particularly more basic prescriptions or in instances where prescriptions need
to be extended.

    RxA was launched in 2000 as the professional advocacy body and voice for
Alberta pharmacists. Representing more than 2,100 pharmacists throughout the
province, RxA's mission is, through leadership and advocacy, to promote and
support the value of pharmacists as primary health care providers.


          Talk to your pharmacist about changes in Alberta pharmacy

    The need to create an efficient and sustainable health care system depends
on using all professions to the best of their abilities. For this reason, on
April 1, 2007 legislation will be passed in Alberta that gives pharmacists
additional abilities for administering injections, prescribing and taking a
more efficient and effective role in your medication management. Pharmacists
may choose which expanded services, such as injections or prescribing, they
add to their practice.

    Services offered will vary from pharmacist to pharmacist. To find out
    what services your pharmacist offers - TALK TO YOUR PHARMACIST.

    What will the new changes allow pharmacists to do?

    Pharmacists will be able to prescribe to extend or adjust medications or
to manage your ongoing medications for chronic conditions such as asthma,
hypertension, diabetes, or anticoagulation. Pharmacists will NOT be permitted
to prescribe narcotic or controlled medications. Pharmacists who complete
additional training will be able to administer injections and vaccinations. In
certain situations, a pharmacist will also be able to write, or initiate, a

    Pharmacists will only be able to prescribe in certain situations. What
    are those 'certain situations'?

    Pharmacists wanting to initiate prescriptions must first apply for, and
receive authorization from, the Alberta College of Pharmacists.

    Pharmacists may write, or initiate, a prescription when:

    -   You choose a pharmacist for an assessment of a condition that is not
        currently under the care of another health care provider (initial
        access). It may be the pharmacist's assessment to refer you to a
        doctor or some other health care provider.

    -   You choose, or are referred to, a pharmacist to manage your ongoing
        medication therapy for chronic conditions such as anticoagulation,
        asthma, hypertension or diabetes.

    Are pharmacists taught to assess clients?

    Yes. The foundation of pharmacists' learning is assessing clients and
determining the most appropriate medication, or whether another form of
treatment or referral to another health professional is more appropriate.
Pharmacists assess clients' conditions through observation, consultation, and
analysis of other information such as laboratory values and personal
medication records.
    It may be that a pharmacist's assessment is a prescription or
non-prescription medication, a non-drug measure, to refer you to a doctor or
another health care provider, or any combination of these choices.

    What training and education do pharmacists have?

    Pharmacists have at least five years of university training, a
Baccalaureate degree in Pharmacy and have completed an internship program.
Pharmacists must pass a national knowledge-based and objective structured
clinical evaluation prior to being licensed to practice and are required to
complete yearly education courses throughout their careers.

    Will the prescribing decisions of pharmacists be made available to other
    health professionals caring for the client?

    Yes. Pharmacists will be required to document their prescribing decisions
and to share that information with the appropriate members of the clients'
health team.

    Will pharmacists charge for these new services?

    Yes. These new services will create additional workloads including
documentation, communication, and monitoring for pharmacists. Many health care
insurers have not yet agreed to provide coverage for these services. If you
have questions about your insurance coverage, contact your insurance provider.
If you choose not to utilize these services, you remain free to seek health
care services at traditional points of access.

    These are big changes to the health care system. How will the public be

    An accountability framework has been established which includes
requirements that:

    -   Pharmacists pass a competency profile with the Alberta College of
    -   Pharmacists document and communicate with other health professionals.
    -   Annual accredited learning experiences occur.
    -   All pharmacists hold malpractice insurance.
    -   Pharmacists must complete an orientation to the new scope of practice
        and must be certified/registered to provide restricted activities.

    For more information about these requirements, or to address concerns
about pharmacist practice, contact the Alberta College of Pharmacists at Suite
1200, 10303 Jasper Ave, Edmonton, AB T5J 3N6, by email at:
acpinfo@pharmacists.ab.ca or by phone at (780) 990-0321.

For further information:

For further information: Michele Penz, RxA, Media Relations, (778)

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