Drug wholesalers limiting supply to pharmacies to prevent hoarding - InfoNews

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Drug wholesalers limiting supply to pharmacies to prevent hoarding

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March 21, 2020 - 12:00 PM

If you're trying to stock up on medications like it's toilet paper, you're out of luck.

A Kelowna pharmacist says drug wholesalers have been limiting the number of medications being distributed to pharmacies.

Craig Tostenson, with Pharmasave in Glenmore, said people will be still able to fill their regular prescriptions, but won’t be able to stockpile.

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“We’ve been asked by the pharmacy association to not encourage stockpiling, because if everyone did that then the suppliers wouldn’t be able to supply all the pharmacies,” he said. “Suppliers are limiting our daily orders, such as on inhalers and whatnot, so we have to be really diligent in making sure we don’t give them all to one person.”

The B.C. Pharmacy Association released a statement asking that pharmacies place a 30-day limit on emergency supplies and to not give out more than the maximum day's supply for regular prescriptions.

Communications specialist Michael Mui, with the association, said suppliers MeKesson Canada and Innovative Medicines Canada have announced that they would be limiting drug supplies across Canada.

“We deal with shortages on medications all the time, that’s kind of the reality of pharmacy,” Tostenson said. “This way, our wholesalers are helping restrict quantities to people so it hopefully doesn’t get worse.”

In the past, wholesalers have limited drugs based on supply, but this is the first time they’re limiting the supply to try and prevent hoarding, Tostenson said.

He said limits have been placed on inhalers, and antibiotics, “anything that might be needed in a time of health issues, they don’t want to short themselves,” Tostenson said.

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It’s challenging for the pharmacies, however, he said.

“It’s hard, we have to be diplomatic,” he said, adding that another Kelowna clinic regularly orders 100 vials of pain medication a week, but the wholesaler limited the supply.

“They said we already went over our allocation, and we said ‘well, we order it routinely for this clinic,’ and now because of that I have to contact the company and order the normal amount and explain that yes, this is a normal amount for a doctor’s office,’” Tostenson said.

He said with the pandemic, he understands the decision from wholesaler but in an ideal world, it would be nice to know that companies are placing limits ahead of time, he said.

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