Pharmacist drug deliveries delayed
Dan Burton, a consultant pharmacist who works out of a number of different pharmacies, said they're seeing shortages in a number of drugs that aren't being delivered by their wholesaler, McKesson Canada.
"What's ultimately happening is a lot of pharmacies in both Alberta and Saskatchewan are going without medications," said Burton. "Now we're scrambling to try and get patients to stay on treatment, some patients have had to come off treatment altogether and so we're really running into this issue that's starting to affect patient care."
Burton said the issue became a problem in the new year right after McKesson switched distribution companies. In the past drugs were delivered once a day. But now he's getting partial deliveries every second or third day and he, like many pharmacists, doesn't keep a large inventory on hand.
"We talked to the drivers and the drivers aren't sure what's going on, we talked to McKesson, we're just not getting communication from either side to where are these drugs or we're told your drug is on a truck, but then it just never shows up," said Burton.
"I understand changes and contracts and stuff like that but we need to be mindful that this is not a usual contract," he added. "The oversight needs to make sure that the transition is smooth so that patient care ultimately isn't interrupted especially with how challenging things already are."
Burton said some patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune conditions have gone without their medications for upwards of a week. He's also concerned about patients on opioid antagonist therapies.
"Patients that have previous addictions to opioids, having them on these treatments, if we can't get them these drugs there is a very real possibility of things like relapse in terms of their treatment plan and strategies so this is a huge issue," he said.
IMPACTED BY PANDEMIC
McKesson Canada spokesperson Andrew Forgione said the company acknowledges the challenges its customers have encountered over the course of the pandemic and with the latest Omicron variant.
"McKesson Canada, like most businesses, has also been impacted by the recent surge in COVID-19 cases," said Forgione in a written statement. "Experiencing growing absenteeism throughout our operations, we are also currently seeing unprecedented customer ordering volume, including COVID-19 vaccines to support Alberta’s expanded booster program."
Forgione said disruptions caused by the continued state of emergency in British Columbia, internal infrastructure improvement activities, including McKesson's transition to a new regional transportation partner, are challenging its operations.
"While these factors have impacted our ability to serve some of our customers in southern Alberta," Forgione said. "We would like to assure our customers that we are working tirelessly to rectify these issues and we will continue to keep them and public health officials, updated on our progress.”
Burton said he's having a hard time getting hold of anyone at McKesson and would like to speak to someone in person about his drug deliveries, and he's not the only one impacted.
"Everybody's being affected, some pharmacies they're getting so short-handed on drugs and stuff that they're actually going to our wholesaler's warehouse to pick up the medications because there's nothing they can do," said Burton. "Patients need these drugs in order to continue on with their therapies and continue living quality life."
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