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'Inappropriate behaviour:' Alberta warns of prescription abuse during COVID


EDMONTON — Alberta's chief medical officer is warning of prescription-dispensing abuse for drugs that are possibly, but not conclusively, linked to fighting COVID-19.

"I know we are all concerned about COVID-19, and this can sometimes lead us to inappropriate behaviour," Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Wednesday.

She said that, according to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta and the Alberta College of Pharmacists, there has been an increase in prescriptions being filled for antibiotics, anti-viral and anti-malarial drugs touted as potential treatment for COVID-19.

"Some reports received by the two colleges include reports of prescribing for office use, personal use and for family members," said Hinshaw.

"These behaviours must stop. These very same medications are used for patients suffering from chronic conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and HIV."

Hinshaw also said there is no "robust evidence" to show those drugs work on COVID-19.

"In a time when there are serious concerns about potential shortages of medication, any misuse, stockpiling or inappropriate prescribing or dispensing should not happen."

Hinshaw announced 117 cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of cases in the province to 871. There were two more deaths, bringing that total to 11.

Premier Jason Kenney also urged Alberta restaurants, many of which have switched to drive-through or delivery-only options during the crisis, to give long-haul truckers a break.

Kenney noted that big rigs can't always access drive-through lanes.

He said he has asked restaurants to let truckers walk up to drive-through windows to place orders and to let them use their washrooms.

"These drivers are working long hours away from home on long-haul trips," said Kenney. "We need to keep them fed, fuelled and rested."

He said some fast food chains have made curbside-delivery available.

Kenney also urged some of those who use public restrooms to stop pilfering toilet paper and other supplies, a barrier to reopening those services.

"I ask people: please show some basic decency and some basic consideration. Don't do stupid things like that, that just makes life harder for our truckers to keep us supplied all across Alberta."

The premier said a plan to reopen select daycares for children of health-care workers will be expanded to all essential workers.

The centres will still be limited to a maximum of 30 children and staff, with strict health rules in place, he said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 1, 2020.

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press