College to have more tools to protect pharmacy patients

VICTORIA – British Columbia has introduced amendments to the Pharmacy

Operations and Drug Scheduling Act, which will give the College of

Pharmacists of B.C. greater ability to protect patients from unscrupulous

pharmacy owners.

Health Minister Terry Lake moved first reading of the Pharmacy Operations

and Drug Scheduling Amendment Act today.

In 2015, the college approached the Ministry of Health and asked the

ministry to give it better legislative tools for regulating people

involved in the community pharmacy industry.

The college is responsible for regulating and registering pharmacists in

B.C., as well as licensing pharmacies to operate. However, it does not

currently have the ability to regulate to the appropriate degree pharmacy

owners, directors or other non-pharmacists involved in running the

pharmacy.

While the vast majority of people involved in community pharmacies are

honest and ethical, the college reports an increase in recent years of

unscrupulous pharmacy practices – for example, kickbacks to methadone

maintenance clients, running dirty, unsafe pharmacies and breaking

PharmaCare billing rules.

The proposed amendments allow the college to require information from the

pharmacy about all owners and other people involved in running a

pharmacy. They also will allow the college to refuse to issue, renew or

reinstate a pharmacy license if pharmacy owners, directors or officers:

* have limits imposed by the college’s discipline committee that prevent

them from owning or managing a pharmacy;

* have been convicted of a recent, relevant crime;

* have committed a billing contravention against PharmaCare;

* have recently had a judgment entered against them in court regarding

pharmacy practice, drugs or devices;

* have recently had their registration as a pharmacist suspended or

cancelled by the college or any other body that regulates pharmacists; or

* have recently had limits or conditions imposed on their registration as

a pharmacists by their professional regulatory body.

 

The college can also choose to impose conditions on a pharmacy licence.

 

These amendments will help the college prevent unsuitable people from

owning or managing, directly or indirectly, community pharmacies in

British Columbia.

 

The amendments also dovetail with the work the Ministry of Health has

done in the past year, under the Provider Regulation of the

Pharmaceutical Services Act. That regulation allows the ministry to

better enforce the rules around pharmacies billing PharmaCare, and to

stop doing business with pharmacies that do not meet those standards. To

date, 28 pharmacies are no longer able to be enrolled in PharmaCare as a

result of the 2015 regulation changes.