New Brunswick

Convenience stores 'shocked' by ban on sale of certain medications

Convenience stores in New Brunswick will no longer be able to sell certain medications due to a recent decision by the province’s college of pharmacists, a move that has drawn the ire of store owners and the Atlantic Convenience Stores Association.

Advil Cold and Sinus, Benadryl, Gravol, NyQuil to be pulled from shelves after College of Pharmacists decision

Several medications will be soon be taken off the shelves of New Brunswick convenience stores due to an order from the province's college of pharmacists. (Radio-Canada )

Convenience stores in New Brunswick will no longer be able to sell certain medications due a recent decision by the province's college of pharmacists, a move that has drawn the ire of store owners and the Atlantic Convenience Stores Association.

The New Brunswick College of Pharmacists has issued an order to stores to stop selling some over-the-counter medications, including Gravol anti-nausea pills, Advil Cold and Sinus, Benadryl in pills or liquid form and liquid NyQuil syrup.

The move came after the college says it discovered that an unregistered wholesaler was illegally selling limited access drugs. That wholesaler has also been told to halt sales of the drugs and to warn customers to remove the drugs from their shelves.

Samuel Lanctin, registrar of the College of Pharmacists, says the effects of these drugs should not be taken lightly.

Mixing them with other prescriptions, for example, can quickly cause serious problems, he said in an interview with Radio-Canada. 

"The reality is the drugs ...  are [not] harmless. These are drugs that can put people at risk," he said.

Association shocked by move 

In a press release, the Atlantic Convenience Stores Association says the college has decided to "suddenly" enforce decades-old regulations that they've ignored for decades.

In an interview, the head of the association Mike Hammoud said the association was "totally caught off guard" by the decision. 

Mike Hammoud is the president of the Atlantic Convenience Stores Association. (CBC )
 

The association is not aware of any situations where the sale of these medications has created any serious issues in the province in recent years, so the decision came as a shock to them, he said. 

He pointed out that these medications are readily available off the shelf at pharmacies and can even be ordered online through sites like Amazon.

"If it is a health issue, it wouldn't be available on the aisle, and it wouldn't be available online. These are questions that we'd like to have answered," he said.

The sale of these medications is not a huge revenue driver for convenience stores, but removing them from shelves could negatively impact many customers, especially those living in rural areas, Hammoud said.

"If you're at a campground and there's an individual that's not feeling well, you've got a child that's not feeling well ... the nearest pharmacy is 50 to 60 kilometres away, but there's a local convenience store close by, they would have the [product] that's needed," he said.

Looking for answers

Louis LeBlanc is the owner of a convenience store in Sainte-Anne-de-Kent, New Brunswick. (Radio-Canada )
 

Louis LeBlanc, owner of a Sainte-Anne-de-Kent convenience store, says the concern is overrated.

"We are a convenience store, that's all we want to do, we help people," he said in an interview in French.

"When a child has an allergy attack and needs Benadryl, do you want to drive 20 to 30 minutes or just around the corner?"

The convenience store owners association hasn't yet spoken with the college about the issue but hopes to meet with its representatives and the Government of New Brunswick soon, Hammoud said.

With files from Radio-Canada