BC Medical Association

BC Medical Association

October 28, 2008 13:00 ET

BC Medical Association: British Columbians Oppose Major Change to Pharmacists' Role

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Oct. 28, 2008) - A significant majority of BC residents are not supportive of pharmacists independently making changes to patient prescriptions.

In a poll conducted by Ipsos Reid earlier this month, 65% of respondents said they oppose pharmacists changing one medication for another without first consulting the prescribing physician. And 64% of them do not want pharmacists altering dosage or frequency of a prescription independently. Both these functions will be allowed under the changes the provincial government has made in scope of practice for pharmacists scheduled to take effect in January 2009.

But British Columbians do favour relaxing the current restrictions on pharmacists and allowing them to extend the renewal period for a prescription in some circumstances. Some 85% of those polled support pharmacists being able to renew prescriptions for people with long term stable conditions. They also support (91%) the current practice of allowing pharmacists to respond to short term emergency situations.

The BC Medical Association, who sponsored the research, has advocated that the scope of practice change for pharmacists should be far more limiting than what government has approved. Like the majority of British Columbians, the BCMA does not believe pharmacists should be able to make changes to a prescription by switching one medication for another or by altering the dosage or frequency of the medication without first consulting with the patient's physician.

In line with the BCMA, there are some circumstances in which the majority of British Columbians oppose allowing pharmacists to renew prescriptions. Fully 70% of those polled said they do not believe any renewals should be allowed for people with psychiatric conditions like depression.

Even in situations where respondents supported changes to the range of responsibilities of pharmacists, a total of 73% said they would see their family doctor to confirm any change the pharmacist made. Of these respondents, 69% said they would aim to see their doctor within a week and 91% would do so within a month.

"We understand the government's interest in reducing the pressure on primary care physicians by involving other health care professionals, however this has to be done in a measured fashion that ensures the right choices are being made for British Columbians," said Dr. Bill Mackie, President of the BCMA. "We hope this feedback from the public encourages the health minister to reassess how best to move forward with any expansion of the pharmacist's role in the community."

Full survey results are available on the BCMA website www.bcma.org and at the Ipsos Reid website www.ipsos.ca.

Contact Information

  • BC Medical Association
    Sharon Shore
    Senior Manager, Communications and Media Relations
    (604) 638-2832 or (604) 306-1866
    Website: www.bcma.org