What pharmacists want Islanders to know as they navigate COVID-19
'We are an essential service and we will be there for you'
The director of the P.E.I. Pharmacists Association is reminding Islanders that as an essential service, pharmacies across the province will remain open as the COVID-19 situation is dealt with.
In a Skype interview with CBC News: Compass host Louise Martin, Erin MacKenzie said pharmacists will continue to dispense prescriptions that are already on file. She clarified that this is not a new practice in response to the virus.
"Pharmacists and pharmacy technician staff are really stepping up to the plate as are health-care providers right across the province," she said.
"We've seen unprecedented times in pharmacies with respect to people looking to get their prescriptions refilled, people who are unsure of what's going on with the COVID-19 crisis."
'An essential service'
MacKenzie said there is key information she wants to impart to Islanders as they navigate the current health crisis.
"People are very concerned they're not going to have access to their medication and we really want to reassure people that we are an essential service, and we will be there for you," she said.
As Islanders go to pharmacies, MacKenzie said it is important to remain mindful of social distancing.
We have to make sure that they are healthy— Erin MacKenzie, director, P.E.I. Pharmacists Association
It is crucial, she said, in protecting pharmacists and staff as well as people who are trying to obtain their medicine — who often themselves are dealing with pre-existing health conditions and are considered to be among the Island's most vulnerable.
She reminded people that Islanders who are ill should remain at home.
"If we want [pharmacists] to be there to make sure we are receiving our medications, we have to make sure that they are healthy," she said.
"Send somebody else or pick up the phone and see if there is a delivery service available in your area."
'Take what you need'
MacKenzie also said people should not be stockpiling medication.
"I know people are concerned, that important and necessary medications are not going to be made available to them if they are house-bound, but we want to reassure people right now that there are no drug shortages … as a direct result of COVID-19."
We have to make sure that medication is available where it's needed.— Erin MacKenzie, director, P.E.I. Pharmacists Association
To mitigate a drug shortage, MacKenzie said, pharmacists need to be mindful of responsible management of the Canadian drug supply.
She said pharmacists may need to decrease the amount of medicine that is dispensed to prevent a drug shortage.
"We have to make sure that medication is available where it's needed, when it's needed and we can't have it sitting at someone's home, so just take what you need," she said.
"Be prepared, but be mindful that a month's supply is enough, typically, to keep people going."
She noted that shelves have been "stripped clean" of things like Tylenol and Advil, but is reminding people that there is no current shortage of these items and that stockpiling is unnecessary.
Expanding the role of pharmacists
"Certainly having our scope expanded to the full extent would be a huge help in situations like this."
She said one thing that needs to be kept in mind is that pharmacies are extremely busy right now trying to manage increased demand.
She said people need to be prepared for longer wait times and lines. She reminded Islanders to be patient as pharmacists and staff assist them during this challenging time.
More COVID-19 news from CBC P.E.I.
With files from CBC News: Compass