Sask. pharmacists to get dose of prescribing power

Saskatchewan pharmacists will soon be allowed to provide services normally reserved exclusively to doctors, the province announced Wednesday.

Saskatchewan pharmacists will soon be allowed to provide services normally reserved for doctors, the province announced Wednesday.

Proposed changes to the Pharmacy Act, which could be in place by summer, would let pharmacists dispense drug refills when a doctor is on vacation and provide a limited supply of a prescribed medicine in an emergency.

"It'll cover pretty much every regular style prescription drug that, for example, they'll be able to extend if the patient runs out of their medication," Ray Joubert, the registrar of the Saskatchewan College of Pharmacists, explained at a news conference.

Pharmacists have lobbied the government for years for more leeway with prescription medicines.

"We have asthmatics coming in that need their medication," George Furneaux, a Regina pharmacist, told CBC News Wednesday. "They're late at night. They're having an asthma attack and our legal choice is not to be able to fill the prescription."

Health Minister Don McMorris said the proposed changes would solve that problem. The  new rules would also allow pharmacists to adjust some prescriptions, he said.

"This means pharmacists, working collaboratively with physicians, will have the authority, for example, to alter dosages, formulation and duration of medications," McMorris said.

The legislation to expand pharmacists' powers was endorsed by the president of the Saskatchewan Medical Association, Dr. George Miller.

Pharmacists would not be able to diagnose patients, create new prescriptions or prescribe narcotics. But they are negotiating for the authority to give injection vaccines and order lab tests.