Drug program omission worries local woman

The New Brunswick Prescription Drug Program doesn’t cover the liquid version of some medications, such as ibuprofen. (Wikimedia Commons)

ST. STEPHEN — A local resident is questioning why the New Brunswick Prescription Drug Program doesn’t cover some liquid medications for senior citizens.

Connie McDougall of Lawrence Station had a sister who stayed at the Lincourt Manor long-term care facility in St. Stephen.

“The only reason I know that is my sister was in the nursing home,” shesaid. “We found this out and I thought, ‘My God, people should know this.’ It would relieve suffering. I don’t understand why it isn’t covered.”

When her sister was prescribed ibuprofen, McDougall said she could not swallow the tablets but that was the only form it was available. She said the attending physician then prescribed it in liquid form, which the plan didn’t cover.

To make matters worse, this was on the eve of the Family Day holiday when some pharmacies were closed McDougall recalled.

“Nobody knows this until they’re in that predicament,” she said. “We paid for it but some people don’t have a family there to fight for them or even pay for it.”

McDougall noted that many long-term care residents have difficulty swallowing even when tablets are crushed and put in soft foods like applesauce. She also noted that some medications can’t be crushed.

“A lot of older people can’t swallow,” she said. “Half of them don’t even swallow the pill because they can’t and it just goes to waste, so they might as well take it from the pharmacy and throw it in the garbage because it’s not doing anybody any good.”

Seniors who cannot afford to pay for the liquid medications and only have the tablet form which they cannot not swallow, are left to suffer, she said.

“If the government is going to cover some things, why not cover that? It’s a necessity and why not relieve suffering if you can?” she asked. “If the province is going to take care of the medication for the elderly, well then take care of all of it.”

McDougall said she contacted the Saint Croix Courier to raise awareness.

“Nobody knows this … I want people to be aware,” she said. “When you get something out there in the newspaper, then people will become aware.”

She also wrote to Saint Croix MLA and the Minister responsible for seniors, Kathy Bockus, McDougall said.

“Kathy answered me right back, she sent a letter right back and said she’s going to look into it,” she said. “I think that Kathy is going to work on it.”

McDougall also plans to contact Shediac Bay-Dieppe MLA Robert Gauvin, the Liberal critic for Social Development, Rural Affairs, and Seniors and Long-Term Care.

“God knows they got enough tax dollars out of these elderly over the years when they were working,” she added. “We should take care of our people. Nobody should be suffering, especially the elderly, especially people that can’t speak up for themselves.”

jakeboudrot@advocatemediainc.com

Jake Boudrot

A graduate of St. Francis Xavier University and a resident of Arichat, Jake Boudrot is an award-winning journalist with decades of experience as a freelancer, reporter and editor representing media outlets across the Maritimes.