The current Health Canada section 56 exemption for all drugs under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) that was set to expire on September 30, 2021, has been extended to September 30, 2026. The purpose of the exemption was to reduce regulatory barriers to support the continuity of care for patients, and as the pandemic continues and Health Canada works toward modernizing federal regulations, the extension to September 30, 2026, meets these continued needs. The Saskatchewan Prescription Review Program partners – Ministry of Health, Saskatchewan College of Pharmacy Professionals, College of Registered Nurses of Saskatchewan, College of Physicians and Surgeons, and the College of Dental Surgeons of Saskatchewan – have considered the long-term implications of the exemption, with a focus on patient safety and access.
This exemption provides prescribers, including Nurse Practitioners, the authority to issue a verbal prescription for controlled substances drugs to extend or refill a prescription. The Saskatchewan Prescription Review Program partners have agreed to accept the new exemption with the following two provisions for Saskatchewan:
- CDSA drugs may only be transferred once within Saskatchewan. While there remains risk of diversion of medications, the Patient ID Policy alleviates some risk and permitting one transfer may benefit the patient.
- Verbal prescription orders should only be accepted after every effort has been made to receive a written or e-prescription from a provider. The rationale for accepting a verbal order must be documented by the pharmacist.
As previous, Health Canada can terminate this exemption depending on the current conditions if the Minister deems that such suspension is necessary to protect public health, safety or security. If necessary, the Minister may change the terms and conditions of this exemption. Should this be the case, you will be informed. Read the Full Statement