In the News / Politics:

Pharmacists in Alberta Allowed to Renew Prescriptions

By: Mohamed Dungersi

Starting July 1, 2012, Albertans will be able to have their prescriptions renewed at their local pharmacies and pharmacists will receive reimbursements for the service.  Patients will be able to renew medications for blood pressure, birth control, and asthma (particularly, inhalers) without waiting weeks to get into their family doctor’s office.  This allows primary healthcare professionals to be more accessible and convenient.

Pharmacists will earn $20 each time they renew a prescription as the government brings in a new compensation model that aims to save people money and improve access to care.  The move will cost Alberta Health and Wellness $20 million this year, but will save the province money, in part because pharmacists will be paid $20 for each renewal compared to the $35 currently paid to doctors for the same task.  This will allow physicians to have more time to spend with other patients.

In 2007, pharmacists in Alberta obtained the ability to renew, adjust, and write new prescriptions (with special training and an application process).  There is now a model that compensates them for their extra work.  All 4,200 pharmacists in Alberta will be able to renew all prescriptions, except narcotics.  Of course, pharmacists will only renew a prescription if they have a complete patient history and an up-to-date snapshot of a patient’s health.  It will be up to their discretion to renew the prescription, considering the patients’ best interests.

Pharmacists greeted the move with a sense of approval, as it represented continued growth of the role of the pharmacist.  Last year, 83,000 Albertans received their flu shots from pharmacists.  This was 50,000 more than the year before.  We have yet to determine if other states in Canada or the United States will adopt a similar model, especially as healthcare costs continue to soar in both nations.

Regardless, this move serves as a key point for the worlds of pharmacy and healthcare.  If this service reimbursement model is successful in the coming years, more states will look keenly at the model that Alberta has employed and consider applying a similar one in the future.


  1. Sinnema, J. New fee schedule gives pharmacists $20 for Rx renewals. Website. Available online: 2012 Feb 14. Last accessed Feb 25, 2012.
  2. Prescription Renewal made easier. Website. Available online: 2012 Feb 13. Last accessed Feb 25, 2012.
  3. CBC News. Alberta pharmacists to renew prescriptions. Website. Available online: 2012 Feb 13. Last accessed Feb 25, 2012.
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