|Alison MacEachern, a pharmacist at the Amherst Pharmasave, works on putting together a medicated cream to treat a patient's rash. Pharmacists in the province now have more abilities in their profession, including extending or modifying a prescription. Raissa Tetanish - Amherst Daily News|
AMHERST - Pharmacists throughout the province are now able to do more thanks to recent changes to regulations.
The provincial government announced the changes late last week that will allow pharmacists to broaden their professional abilities.
"The government made these changes to enhance the role of the community pharmacist," said Sean Cheverie, pharmacist and co-owner of the Amherst Pharmasave.
"Pharmacists are now able to formally recommend products for issues such as heartburn or a cough or cold," he said.
By changing the legislation, the products, which are typically sold from behind the counter or from the area right in front of the counter, the province is helping those whose medical plans only cover the drugs if they are prescribed.
Before the changes, pharmacists could extend a prescription for up to 30 days in the absence of a doctor, but now a pharmacist can refill past the 30-day mark or modify a prescription using their judgment - one example would be changing from a tablet to a liquid.
They're also able to provide certain medications when the patient's doctor isn't available, and even change prescriptions to avoid dispensing delays.
"In my opinion, however, it's tough to prescribe a medication when you've never been trained to diagnose," Cheverie said. "For pharmacists, it's about providing symptomatic relief.
One of Cheverie's concerns about pharmacists prescribing medications is whether or not they're masking a problem that should have gone to the emergency department.
"It's incumbent that we make sure the competencies are there," he said. "The intent is very good, but we need to proceed cautiously."
The biggest thing that pharmacists need to keep in mind, said Cheverie is keeping in contact with the patient's doctor.
"Communication with their physician is paramount," he said.