Last week, Health Canada’s Office of Controlled Substances issued a short-term exemption from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act in the public interest, made necessary by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In order to take effect in Nova Scotia, the directive of Health Canada required coordinated action from government, the NSPMP, and the regulatory colleges. The necessary steps have been taken.
- Pharmacists may extend and renew prescriptions of controlled drugs and substances;
- Pharmacists may transfer prescriptions of controlled drugs and substances to other pharmacists;
- Pharmacists may accept and practitioners may verbally provide prescriptions for controlled drugs and substances; and
- Pharmacy employees may deliver controlled substances to patients (at their homes or an alternate location).
These changes will improve access to needed medications during this state of emergency while reducing unnecessary in-person contact with health professionals.
The specific changes implemented by the NSPMP are as follows:
1. Physician Prescribing
As per the March 19, 2020, Health Canada exemption, prescribers are permitted to issue verbal orders for monitored drugs. Physicians may e-prescribe within the DIS, fax or call in prescriptions of controlled substances to pharmacists.
To assist with verbal prescribing, under NSPMP, prescribers will not be required to complete or maintain a prescription form, however, will be required to relay appropriate content required for a prescription, and maintain a record consistent with their College requirements.
2. Pharmacists Authority to Prescribe Controlled Substances Expanded
As per the March 19, 2020, Health Canada exemption, pharmacists may extend or renew a monitored drug prescription without the use of an NSPMP Prescription Form/duplicate pad, if it meets the requirements of a prescription and the conditions set out under Health Canada’s exemption s56(1) dated March 19, 2020.
As per the March 19, 2020, Health Canada exemption, pharmacists may dispense a monitored drug prescription extended or renewed by a Pharmacist, not written on an NSPMP Prescription Form/duplicate pad, if it meets the requirements of a prescription and the conditions set out under Health Canada’s exemption s56(1) dated March 19, 2020.
Pharmacists are requested to refer to the Nova Scotia College of Pharmacists for all requirements relating to prescribing and dispensing.
Please also refer to Health Canada’s FAQs regarding this class exemption.