Nfld. & Labrador

Health minister issues apology to pharmacists over drug shortage confusion in N.L.

Health Minister John Haggie mended fences with pharmacists across Newfoundland and Labrador on Thursday saying he had been given mixed messages from drug manufacturers and wholesalers in relation to the province's current drug supply.

Pharmacists limiting to 30-day prescriptions to keep ahead of shortage

Health Minister John Haggie apologized on Thursday to pharmacists in Newfoundland and Labrador. (File photo) (Peter Cowan/CBC)

Health Minister John Haggie mended fences with pharmacists across Newfoundland and Labrador on Thursday saying he had been given mixed messages from drug manufacturers and wholesalers in relation to the province's current drug supply.

On Wednesday, Haggie said the province had not been made aware from wholesalers of any issue in supplying drugs, and that wholesalers suggested that unless there is a pressing need, pharmacies should prevent hoarding medicines.

Some pharmacists across the province were disheartened by Haggie's comment, saying there is in fact a drug supply shortage during the current COVID-19 pandemic and there's a reason behind pharmacies limiting patients to a 30-day supply of medications.

"Pharmacies are seeing increased requests from patients seeking more months of their medication than they would normally get at one time," said Janice Audeau, president of the Pharmacists' Association of Newfoundland and Labrador in a news release.

"We recognize that the 30-day supply limit may be a difficult adjustment. However, by appropriately managing inventory today, we are reducing the risk that patients will not be able to access their medication in the future."

On Thursday, during the province's daily COVID-19 update, Haggie said up until Wednesday he was not actually aware of any significant drug shortages related to the pandemic.

"We have unfortunately become grown accustomed to drug shortages for other reasons," Haggie said.

"Quite frankly if what I said yesterday bugged you as a pharmacist please accept my apologies. That was not my intention. You are crucial to the health care system."

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