On-going drug shortages in Quebec are beginning to force some hospital pharmacists to give patients drugs past their best before date and to recycle medication, because they say there are no other options.
The association representing pharmacists in hospitals (APES) says, in a survey, members reported they were forced to give patients expired drugs, and ask nurses to keep leftovers of pain medication, so they could be used for the next patients.
“There is a danger, because that is not the way that is recommended to work, when you keep the rest of medication there is a chance of contamination with bacteria, or other particles,” François Paradis, the president of the association said.
“Because of the drug shortages, pharmacists and nurses have to make changes very quickly without pre-advice, so this increases the risks of mistakes,” Diane Lamarre, president of the Quebec order of pharmacists said.
The association sent a letter to Quebec's health minister on February 21, asking him to take action.
It says right now only one company can supply medication to hospitals, and that needs to change.
The letter also suggests the minister create a list of priority drugs in Quebec and create a comity to coordinate that they are available.
Pharmacists are also urging Health Canada to force pharmaceutical companies to explain why there are drug shortages.
“It is a privilege to be a manufacturer of medication and they should ensure their responsibilities,” Lamarre said.