Pharmacy opposes technician technicality

Sicamous at risk of losing weekend pharmacy services due to proposed changes around telepharmacy operations.

Eagle Valley IDA pharmacy owner Colin Munro demonstrates the store's telepharmacy service.

Sicamous and other rural B.C. communities are at risk of losing pharmacy services due to proposed changes around telepharmacy operations.

Eagle Valley IDA pharmacist Jeff Primeau was successful in his request to District of Sicamous council to write a letter of opposition to a legislation change being proposed by the B.C. College of Pharmacists. The change would require a certified pharmacy technician be on hand for telepharmacy service.

Mayor Terry Rysz supported the request, noting he doesn’t wish to see any employee in the community lose their job. This, according to Primeau, is one possible outcome for Sicamous and other communities that use telepharmacy.

“We don’t employ a certified pharmacy technician, we only have pharmacy assistants, and in Sicamous they do the job quite well,” explained Primeau. “We train them ourselves, we don’t need to have a certified pharmacy tech. If we were required to hire a certified pharmacy tech, we probably wouldn’t be able to get one in Sicamous… Also, if we were to hire a certified pharmacy tech, that would probably take a job away from one of my pharmacy assistants. I don’t want that.”

The Sicamous pharmacy has utilized a telepharmacy service with pharmacy assistants for about eight years now. (And without incident, notes Primeau.) This on-site videoconferencing technology allows a pharmacist in a central location – in this case Munro’s Sorrento Prescriptions in Sorrento – to be present at a remote pharmacy location via monitor. That pharmacist is available to customers to answer questions, check on drug interactions – everything one would expect  from an on-site pharmacist.

This system has allowed the Sicamous pharmacy, as well as pharmacies in Barriere, Logan Lake, Valemount and McBride (all under the same ownership) to provide full pharmacy services on days when the local pharmacist isn’t on duty.

The change that requires a certified technician be on duty, rather than an assistant, has to do with a legitimization of the term “pharmacy technician,” says Primeau.

“Where the confusion started was when pharmacy techs started to be certified, because five, 10 years ago, anybody that worked in the pharmacy department that wasn’t a pharmacist was called a pharmacy technician,” explained Primeau. “Now, to be called a pharmacy technician, you need to have the training, you have to have the certificate, you have to pay your professional registration to the College of Pharmacists.”

Pharmacy assistants, Primeau adds, are under direct supervision of the pharmacist who takes assumes all legal responsibility for filling any prescription or talking to any patient.

“It’s not like more schooling on the technician’s part is increasing pharmacy care or improving outcomes with the patient,” said Primeau. “It’s all still the pharmacist’s responsibility.”

In addition, Primeau says the proposed change hasn’t taken into account such things as rural demographics and staffing, and how unlikely it is a certified pharmacy tech can be found who will want to work weekends and holidays in rural communities.

“We don’t have oodles of pharmacy technicians, certified ones, handing in resumes and wanting to live in Sicamous. It’s not happening,” said Primeau. “That’s why we’re kind of stuck. Especially when you take into account the pharmacy staff working here now do an exceptional job.”


After his presentation to  council, Primeau learned the deadline before the proposed change comes into effect has been extended by a year.



Just Posted

Sagmoen neighbours recall alleged hammer attack

Woman was screaming outside Maple Ridge townhouse in 2013

Accused Shuswap drug smuggler to be extradited

Supreme Court of Canada upholds extradition order for accused Shuswap drug smuggler, Colin Martin

Interior Health holding immunization clinic in Vernon Saturday

IH issues list of Okanagan meningococcal immunization clinics

Police issue warrant for Sicamous man

Sheldon Odd wanted for theft under $5,000

Trustee to consider opening outdoor school in September

Staff recommend South Canoe School re-open with a new district program

VIDEO: Average Canadian food bill to rise by $348 in 2018

Atlantic Canada and B.C. will see the most increases for consumers

Tim Hortons owners honoured

Sicamous Tims owners Jonathan and Nicholas Dow receive Inclusive Employer Award

VIDEO: 3 months later, rescued sea lion released back into ocean

The young animal was found in Campbell River three months ago

ERS band students swing in the season with Winter Concert

Show features mix of modern numbers and Christmas classics

One convicted, two cleared in 2014 deaths of men in B.C.’s Cariboo

Andrew Jongbloets convicted of manslaughter in deaths of Matthew Hennigar, 23 and Kalvin Andy, 22

AHUS patient Shantee Anaquod is home for Christmas

Less than a month after receiving first dose of $750K drug, 23 year old healthy enough to go home

Firefighter dies, thousands more take on California blaze

This is second death linked to the Thomas fire, northwest of Los Angeles

Moose calves rescued in northern B.C. are ‘golden nuggets:’ researcher

Calves discovered near Prince George in late May. Mother had been killed by a car

Missing Alberta man could be headed to Victoria

Police in Alberta say Vernon “Allan” Pickard has not been heard from since late November

Most Read