About 30 Sobeys and Lawtons pharmacy locations affected by Canada-wide outages

Sobeys and Lawtowns pharmacies across Canada have been having IT problems since Saturday, hurting their ability to serve customers.  (Sam Nar/CBC - image credit)
Sobeys and Lawtowns pharmacies across Canada have been having IT problems since Saturday, hurting their ability to serve customers. (Sam Nar/CBC - image credit)
Sam Nar/CBC
Sam Nar/CBC

Lawtons and Sobeys pharmacies have mostly been out of commission across Canada since Saturday due to IT issues, affecting about 30 locations across Newfoundland and Labrador.

Noelle Patten, registrar of the Newfoundland and Labrador Pharmacy Board, said Tuesday morning the organization is keeping tabs on the problem, which has left customers of the affected pharmacies unable to have their prescriptions filled.

"It's affected their dispensing software systems and dispensing technologies to varying extents across the the pharmacies throughout the province," Patten said.

"It has impacted their ability to fill prescriptions and to share information into our provincial electronic health record."

The IT problem isn't something the provincial board can help with, Patten said, but the province's impacted pharmacies are remaining open to help patients as much as they can until it's solved.

"The impact to a person who is a patient of one of these pharmacies will vary according to the site because each site is affected to a varying degree," Patten said.

"A patient, for example, may have a prescription that was prepared before the outage that the pharmacy could provide to them."

Government of Saskatchewan
Government of Saskatchewan

Patten is encouraging patients of the affected pharmacies to call them for guidance on what can be done for them.

If a pharmacy team can't meet a patient's needs, Patten said, that pharmacy is expected to arrange help through a different pharmacy.

"From what we understand through all of our communications over the past couple of days, that's what's happening," she said.

"We're also very fortunate in our province to have a provincial electronic health record that contains an individual's medication history," she added. "They can see their full medication history, and that enables them to make safe decisions around pharmacy services and dispensing medication."

Patten said one major concern for the board during the outage is the protection of personal health information but the board is not aware of any breaches.

She said the outage problems lay with the company and she's unaware of the cause or the response to the issue.

"The pharmacy teams throughout the province have been engaged and working to minimize the impact to the public and we've been supporting them and assisting them," Patten said.

"But I really don't have any information to share in terms of the cause of the issue and their communications strategy around that."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador