Pharmacists in New Brunswick: Bring your MLA to a pharmacy Day

DSC_0056On May 30th, David Coon, MLA for Fredericton South and Leader of the Green Party of New Brunswick participated in Bring your MLA to a Pharmacy Day, hosted by the New Brunswick Pharmacists Association.

David stepped into the Ross Guardian Pharmacy on Rookwood Avenue that afternoon and was met by Brian Greenfield, owner and lead pharmacist at all three Ross Guardian Drug Stores in Fredericton South. Over the next 45 minutes, Brian showed David around the store and behind the pharmacy counter, explaining the opportunities and challenges facing pharmacists in New Brunswick today.

According to Brian, while New Brunswick pharmacists are among the most enabled in the country to practice at their full scope, they also are among the most underfunded.

In 2014, the government extended the right to pharmacists to assess and treat minor ailments including coughs, sore throats, and urinary tract infections (UTIs). This has the potential to divert many patients from hospital emergency rooms, however pharmacies are under strict regulations about advertising these services so many patients are not aware that they exist. You can read all about the program on the NB Pharmacists Association Website here. Government has not made these pharmacist consultations billable under Medicare. For patients to access this service they must pay $22.50 out of pocket.

DSC_0057 (2)Another service that Brian and many of his peers across the province provide to New Brunswickers at their own expense, is the disposal of excess medications. In other jurisdictions, legislation makes pharmaceutical companies responsible for these costs. In New Brunswick, pharmacies have to assume this cost which may run to thousands of dollars annually. If the drug companies were responsible for this cost, more could be done to encourage New Brunswickers to return unused medications for proper disposal, ensuring greater public safety and environmental protection.

Pharmacists in New Brunswick provide immense value to our communities but they need government support to enable them to practice at their full scope. As David advocates for better collaborative, community-based approaches to health care, we hope to see pharmacists playing a greater role in our health system in the years to come.

Check out our video summarizing this topic: