Pharmacists deserve recognition

We are in the midst of the worst public health emergency in a century and each day front line workers leave the safety and comfort of their homes to carry out their duties so that as many lives as possible can be saved. Pharmacists form an essential part of the battle against COVID-19 and are a prime example of such workers. How many lives would be lost without our dutiful pharmacists, who risk their health, wellbeing, and – potentially – lives to come to work each day to help us. Without access to basic medication, many people, even those unaffected by COVID-19, would become sick or die simply because they don’t have the life sustaining medicine they need. As such, pharmacists form an important a part of the battle against this crisis, just like doctors and nurses, who are more visible front line workers.

Given the global supply chain disruptions the current crisis is causing, a mandatory 30 day prescription supply limit has been introduced to ensure there are no shortages of medicines and thus no unnecessary loss of life because someone is not able to access the drugs they need. This makes perfect sense and is intended to protect us all.

I was ashamed to hear that people who disagree with this 30-day supply limit, because it results in more out-of-pocket expenses for patients, are abusing pharmacists. The increased expenses relate to dispensing fees that are paid each time a prescription is refilled. If a prescription must be refilled monthly instead once every two months, the dispensing fee must be paid twice. Dispensing fees are usually only a few dollars – a nominal amount. Yet, some of the abuse was so foul that you would think thousands of dollars were at stake.

These people who are hurling this abuse should be ashamed of themselves and need to reflect upon the way they are treating these vital front line workers. All pharmacists have families – children, partners, siblings, and parents – yet, these valiant professionals are going out into an ever more dangerous world day after day to ensure that we have access to the vital medications we need. It makes me sick to learn that some people see it perfectly fine to abuse these brave individuals and blame them for something which is out of their control.

I put it to these misguided people who are abusing pharmacists that if they do not like the additional expenses associated with the 30-day supply limit, it is certainly not the fault of the pharmacist. How would they like it if they turned up at the pharmacy only to learn that there was no medicine available for them or their children? And, moreover, no chance of any medicine arriving in the foreseeable future? I for one am happy to pay a few extra dollars per month to ensure that we all have access to these vital medications. And even if I didn’t like the added expense, I would have the decency not to hurl abuse at people who absolutely do not deserve it. Our pharmacists deserve praise and recognition for the role they are playing in keeping our society functioning. And those hurling abuse need to take this new-found time we have during quarantine to do some serious reflection about how they treat people. Instead of tearing others down, perhaps these people could consider how they can contribute towards the fight against this virus – an easy first step in making a contribution would be to readjust their attitude towards those going above and beyond the call of duty to help us all, such as our pharmacists.

This is a time to come together, not a time for petty mistreatment of those serving our community. There are a lot of frustrating things that are a result of this crisis, but if these annoyances help in the overall fight, then we have a duty and a moral obligation to play our part just like our brave front line workers. This type of abuse is not representative of who we are as Cape Bretoners. We need to remember that world-famous hospitality we’re known for. That is the attitude that will help us get through this crisis.

I wish to express my sincere gratitude to our pharmacists, as well as every other front line worker who is risking their health and wellbeing to keep our society functioning. I commend you!