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Remote Drug Dispensing In Ontario

Archived Backgrounder

Remote Drug Dispensing In Ontario

Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care

The Ontario legislature passed amendments to the Drug and Pharmacies Regulation Act (DPRA) in December 2009 to enable prescriptions to be dispensed using remote dispensing technology without a pharmacist being physically present. These regulations are now in effect.

Under the DPRA, pharmacies must be accredited by the Ontario College of Pharmacists (OCP) and are required to meet certain standards of operation. One such requirement is that medication must be dispensed under the direct supervision of a pharmacist who is physically present in the pharmacy. 

The OCP is given the authority under the DPRA to make regulations on a variety of subject matters, including setting out the requirements for remote dispensing locations and technologies. These changes are subject to approval by the government.

Under the DPRA and its regulations, the OCP is responsible for accrediting, monitoring and enforcing the regulatory requirements for these new drug dispensing technologies. For example, the OCP is responsible for enforcing the type of drug products that may be dispensed - such as, prohibiting narcotics or other controlled substances to be dispensed remotely.

The new regulation requires a pharmacist be available at the time the prescription is submitted by the patient to review and approve the prescription, monitor the dispensing and counsel the patient. The pharmacist will perform the same pharmacy services he or she currently provides but through a virtual medium.

These changes enable the use of remote dispensing technology by a pharmacy while at the same time ensuring accountability and the protection of the public.

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