On May 11, 2020 / News
The provincial government has announced that, effective May 11, they are lifting the blanket 30-day limit on prescription refills that has been in place in Manitoba since March 19.
The government is also creating a new working group – comprised of members from Pharmacists Manitoba, the College of Pharmacists of Manitoba, and provincial officials – to monitor and restrict drugs that are known to be in short supply. This group will be responsible for ongoing surveillance and monitoring of drug availability in the province and will make evidence-based decisions as to what drugs should continue to only be dispensed in one-month allotments.
This news did not come as a surprise to us. We have been engaged in ongoing discussions with the Health Minister and other stakeholders in recent weeks to consider options for managing drug supply shortages. We believe that today’s announcement is a positive step in the right direction that will benefit everyone, and it shows that government values the role our members play.
We know firsthand that many medications experienced an increase in demand at the start of this global pandemic, which is why the initial decision by the government to limit to one-month was an essential one. It provided a critical buffer in our supply chain during the initial pandemic response. But we also realize that our standard systems for monitoring drug shortages will not work in the face of a prolonged global pandemic that lasts months or years, and we’ve consistently said we are open to finding a better path forward that works for everyone.
The creation of a pharmacy working group is yet another example that our government relations strategy is the right one. In the past, a decision like this one might have arrived out of the blue, but today, and going forward, constructive dialogue is growing. We intend to keep building upon the strong foundation that is now in place and continue advocating for increased recognition and support for pharmacists across the province.
We know how hard you have been working during this pandemic. We understand the increased costs of running your businesses – installing barriers, purchasing PPE, expanding cleaning protocols and accommodating drug supply restrictions and limitations – and we are deeply appreciative of all you’ve done to keep serving Manitobans in a safe manner.
Pharmacists Manitoba will continue to support you, our members, as you deal with the challenges created by COVID-19 and beyond. We’ll be sure to keep you updated of any further developments as they happen and, as always, please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or concerns.
Please note – we understand a statement from Deputy Minister Karen Herd, MHSAL, to all pharmacies regarding the list of drugs that will remain on the one-month supply only list was circulated Friday afternoon.