This release was issued under a previous government.

Starting July 1, 2012, Albertans will have another option to get their prescriptions renewed.

As part of the Alberta government’s investment in people and communities in Budget 2012, Albertans will be able to have their prescriptions renewed at their local pharmacies. Pharmacists will now be paid to provide the new service to all Albertans.

“Essentially, we are opening 1,000 new locations to get prescriptions renewed which will provide Albertans with more access, more options and more convenience,” said Fred Horne, Minister of Health and Wellness. “This initiative also supports physicians by freeing up time to see more patients, especially those with complex health needs.”

"Expanding pharmacy clinical services is good news for pharmacists and good news for Albertans," said Neil Cameron, President of the Alberta Pharmacists' Association. "Together with other pharmacy stakeholders and the Alberta government, we will move forward with fully implementing Alberta's new Pharmacy Services Framework later this year. This will ensure community pharmacists are in the best position to grow in their role as coordinators of drug therapy management that results in better patient health outcomes."

Effective July 1, the Alberta government will also reduce the price it pays for generic prescription drugs. The price reduction will mean Albertans will save on their out-of-pocket costs for generic drugs, and the Alberta government will save about $85 million in 2012/13.

To help pharmacies in Alberta’s remote communities expand their services and adjust to the lower generic drug prices, $5.3 million dollars will be available in 2012/13 as part of a new three-year, $15.9-million Remote Pharmacy Access Grant. This follows on a $5 million grant for rural pharmacies and over $55 million in transition support for all pharmacies provided since 2010.

“The new three-year grant is designed to provide assistance to Alberta’s small community pharmacies should they qualify’” said Horne. “We want to make sure that Albertans living in remote communities have access to pharmacists and pharmacy services to help them stay healthy.”

“Alberta’s pharmacists are uniquely placed in the system, particularly in rural areas, to help address the many challenges associated with drug therapy,” said Dr. James Kehrer, Dean of the Faculty of Pharmacy at the University of Alberta. “I am confident that today’s announcement will help pharmacists provide a more supportive and accessible continuum of primary health care.”

Funding for the remote access grant and other expanded services will come from savings achieved as a result of the new lower generic drug prices.

All of these initiatives are the first step towards full implementation of a new professional services compensation framework for pharmacists which is now complete. Since 2009, a transition team representing Alberta pharmacists has been working with Alberta Health and Wellness to develop the framework. The framework recognizes the role of pharmacists as full partners in delivering team-based care.

Budget 2012 invests in people. It allocates approximately 75 per cent of provincial funding to the core programs of health, education and human services without raising taxes, while forecasting a return to a balanced budget by 2013-14.

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Backgrounder: Pharmacy stats and facts

Media inquiries may be directed to:

Andy Weiler
Communications
Health and Wellness
Cell: 780-719-9325
andy.weiler@gov.ab.ca

Backgrounder

Pharmacy stats and facts

In 2008, Alberta was home to 949 pharmacies. In 2012, Alberta is home to 1013 pharmacies.

In 2007, the Alberta government amended the Pharmacists Regulation of the Health Professions Act to allow pharmacists to renew, modify and in some cases prescribe medications in accordance with educational requirements and quality standards set by the Alberta College of Pharmacists.  Services are provided in consultation with a patient's physician. This new investment supports appropriately licensed pharmacists to offer better access to these services across the province.

Pharmacy changes as of July 1 include:

Prescription renewals - $20 million in 2012/13

Albertans will have the option to ask their local pharmacist to renew their prescription. Albertans can still visit their family physician to have their prescription renewed. The Government of Alberta will reimburse pharmacists for this new service. Refills that are short-term until the patient can see a physician would not qualify for this reimbursement. This service is within the current standards of practice of Alberta’s pharmacists.

Work continues to introduce more patient-focused pharmacy services to improve access and the health of Albertans.

Remote Pharmacy Access Grant - $5.3 million in 2012/13 (total $15.9 million over three years)

For pharmacies located in remote communities, the Alberta government will be providing a three-year, $15.9 million Remote Pharmacy Access Grant. The grant will be managed by Alberta Pharmacists’ Association, with a monthly payment to eligible pharmacies. This grant will provide a monthly payment to existing remote pharmacies in Alberta that meet certain eligibility criteria such as size of community and distance between pharmacies.

Pharmacy Services Framework

A new compensation framework has been developed by a transition team working with government since 2009. The framework will be fully implemented on July 1, 2012. 

Generic Drug Prices Reduction

Alberta is reducing the prices it pays for generic drugs from beginning July 1. Because of this reduction, in many cases, Albertans will see a cost savings in the price they pay for generic medications. Government is projecting a total savings of $85 million. Alberta’s current generic drug price is 45 per cent of name brand price.

Other Government of Alberta support for pharmacists

  • Three-year Transition Allowance introduced in 2010 provided an additional payment on dispensing fees for prescriptions under $75:

2010/11 - $3 additional fee - total $35 million
2011/12 - $2 additional fee - total $23 million (estimated)
2012/13 - $1 additional fee - total $12 million (estimated)

  • One-year, $5 million Remote Pharmacy Access Grant in 2010.
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Media inquiries may be directed to:

Andy Weiler
Communications
Health and Wellness
Cell: 780-719-9325
andy.weiler@gov.ab.ca