The Manitoba government is lifting the one-month supply limit on prescription drugs, Health, Seniors and Active Living Minister Cameron Friesen announced today.
Effective May 11, Manitobans who have prescriptions for long-term medications will be able to fill them as per their prescriber’s directions up to a three-month supply, if the drug is not affected by shortages.
In March, the government moved to restrict prescription fills to one month in response to global drug shortages. This move was consistent with all provinces and territories, and was in response to advice received from the Canadian Pharmacists Association and Canadian Association for Pharmaceutical Distributors and Management.
In Manitoba, these limits were imposed on March 19. This was done to minimize potential distribution shortages and prevent people from stockpiling medication due in part to messaging from the federal government to Canadians. Another contributing factor is the typically high volume of dispensing that occurs at the end of Manitoba’s Pharmacare Program year, which is in late March.
“While this decision to restrict prescription fills to one month was necessary, we have been monitoring carefully the consequences and recognize the impact this has had on many Manitobans,” said Friesen. “As a result, our government is pleased to be removing the one-month limit now that the global and domestic drug supply is showing to be more stable.”
Friesen noted today’s announcement builds on other measures the government has taken to minimize the financial pressure caused as a result of the policy.
“Our government acted early and announced shortly after placing the limit on prescription fills, pharmacare rates would be frozen at last year’s level, and users would see no increase to their pharmacare deductible,” said Friesen.
The minister also announced the immediate establishment of a time-limited, COVID-19 drug shortage working group which will be comprised of provincial officials, as well as representatives from Pharmacists Manitoba and the College of Pharmacists of Manitoba.
This working group will be responsible for ongoing surveillance and monitoring of drug availability in the province. This work will allow the group to make evidence-based decisions as to what drugs should continue to only be dispensed in one-month allotments. The work of the group will be guided by Health Canada’s list of drugs in short supply that can be found at www.drugshortagescanada.ca. The working group will also solicit for proposals from industry, stakeholder groups and health-related associations to make evidence-based decisions in a collaborative format.
To ensure Manitobans can benefit from this financial relief, while also allowing the working group to begin their work, only drugs currently listed in short supply on the federal government’s drug shortages website will be subject to the one-month fill limit. Pharmacists will be able to advise their clients about which specific drugs are in short supply and might be subject to dispensing limits.
Further to the announcement, the minister noted Manitobans who have experienced a significant change in their income can have their Manitoba Pharmacare Program deductible reviewed. Individuals can estimate their income for the current year, which in turn will set a new deductible for that same year. Following the filing of the individual’s income taxes for the current year, the projected income is then compared to the actual income and the difference is reconciled. To have a Manitoba pharmacare deductible reviewed, call 204-786-7141 or (toll-free) at 1-800-297-8099, or by emailing email@example.com.
Pharmacists Manitoba is asking their clients to appropriately refill their medications, such as not refilling more than 10 days before their next scheduled refill, and not requesting quantities in excess of 100 days’ supply, to help maintain the drug supply going forward.
To help ease the financial burden on seniors, the Manitoba government also announced May 5, the Seniors Economic Recovery Credit which will provide every Manitoban aged 65 and older with a one-time, refundable tax credit of $200.
For more information on COVID-19 in Manitoba, visit www.manitoba.ca/covid19.
A comprehensive list of Manitoba government COVID-19 measures can be found at:
(Province of MB News Release)