Canada’s prescription drug plan has reached its limit for refill rates, with a staggering number of Canadians waiting to see if they can get their prescription refill.
The numbers are so bad that the province is asking anyone who missed a prescription deadline to check in with a doctor.
The problem started in September with an announcement that pharmacists would only be able to dispense one refill per prescription.
“This was not a good decision,” said Karen LeBlanc, director of communications at Health Canada.
“We have to be able, as a government, to provide the support to help Canadians get through this.”
In an email, Health Canada spokeswoman Shannon Dickson said it was an unfortunate situation that impacted Canadians.
“Our focus is on providing the support that is needed to ensure patients get their prescriptions filled safely and efficiently,” Dickson wrote.
“The province has reached the limit for the number of refill requests and we are asking Canadians to ensure that they do not miss any refill requests.”
“I think the problem with this is that we’re only going to get so many people to the point where it becomes unmanageable.”
A shortage of fillers means people can’t get to the pharmacy to refill their prescriptions.
Health Canada said it’s trying to help people who can’t reach the pharmacy fill their prescriptions online or in person.
“There’s going to be a huge impact on our pharmacists, and we need to make sure that we are doing everything we can to support them,” LeBlann said.
The shortage is making it hard to buy medicine online and in grocery stores, which are the main outlets for prescription refill requests.
Health and social assistance services say many people with chronic illness cannot afford the monthly costs of a refill, which can be up to $50 per month.
LeBlanch said the provincial government is working with the private sector to address the problem.
“It’s really a public health issue, and I think it’s time for us to be more proactive and to try and address it through the government,” she said.