Press Releases

Pharmacists can help control chronic diseases that account for 70 per cent of deaths in the country

Nov 21, 2013

Report indicates that doctors and individuals agree that pharmacists can play a greater role managing our health


MONTREAL, Nov. 21, 2013 /CNW/ - The increasing prevalence of complex chronic diseases is one of the most important health issues facing Canadians, making prevention and management a key priority for our governments.  According to the report entitled Sustainable Solutions Report: A Focus on Managing Complex Chronic Diseases, expanding the role of pharmacists is one solution that will reduce the burden of chronic illness on patients, and save the system an estimated $1.4 to $1.9 billion dollars over three years. The report also includes survey data showing support from physicians and patients who want pharmacists to play a bigger role in health care delivery.

"Pharmacists already provide advice to patients that take medication to treat chronic conditions, but they can do so much more," says Denis Roy, Senior Director Professional Affairs at Pharmaprix. "Governments have identified chronic disease as an immense challenge and they are investing significant dollars in prevention and treatment of these illnesses; using pharmacists more effectively can help achieve the goal of improving care for Quebecers and Canadians, while at the same time reducing costs and creating more access to the health care system."

Complex chronic diseases, like arthritis, hypertension, diabetes, cancer, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, affect 37 per cent of Canadians and are a factor in 70 per cent of deaths. In Quebec, a little over half of the population over the age of 12 suffers from at least one chronic disease. Some risk factors for chronic diseases like age and genetics can't be helped, while others are controllable like diet, exercise, or tobacco use.  In 2011, the associated medical costs for individuals with these complex chronic diseases were estimated at $42 billion, or 21 per cent of total health care spending. This figure is expected to rise to $53 billion by 2015. These rising costs are unsustainable and solutions are needed now.

How Pharmacists Can Make A Difference
The Pharmaprix/Shoppers Drug Mart Sustainable Solutions Report includes a set of three practical steps governments can take to facilitate pharmacists playing a more substantial role in the management of chronic diseases.  These include: 1) enabling pharmacists to develop and manage patient care plans; 2) allowing pharmacists to make prescription renewals and adaptations for specific drug classes; and 3) improving electronic infrastructure and information-sharing between pharmacists and physicians.

Similar measures were outlined in a plan entitled, 9,000 Points of Care: Improving Access to Affordable Healthcare, released by Canada's broader pharmacy community. That plan estimated between $1.4 and $1.9 billion would be saved over three years by expanding the role of pharmacists in managing chronic diseases.i   It is also estimated that 1.3 million emergency room visits and 500,000 hospitalizations could be avoided, freeing up to 6.3 million hours of physician time.ii

"Patients with chronic illnesses such as diabetes stand to benefit significantly by having access to pharmacists that can help them reach their health target, such as providing monthly feedback and support regarding their blood glucose results" says Denis Roy.  "In Quebec, four type 2 diabetics out of ten are at risk of developing serious complications because they do not reach their treatment goals. Pharmacists see these patients more frequently than any other healthcare professional and they should be considered by the healthcare system as medication managers that can help diabetics stay away from the hospital."

Enabling pharmacists to develop and manage patient care plans involving lifestyle management tips and one-on-one or group counselling is one instance of how pharmacists can improve the patient experience while also saving physician time and health care dollars.

An example of this type of program is the Diabetes Care from Head to Toe campaign developed to help people control their diabetes. It also helps those with diabetes work with a pharmacist to monitor their blood sugar levels and medication over time to prevent complications that range from stroke to foot ulcers and include target organ damage in the eye, kidney and heart.

"My colleagues and I have a lot to offer to reduce the risk of complications in diabetics," says Nada Nasreddine, a Pharmaprix pharmacist-owner in Montreal. "We as pharmacists are medication experts and we can play a larger role in helping diabetics control their disease by recommending the appropriate course of treatment."

Diabetes has reached colossal proportions in recent years in our province. According to Diabetes Quebec, more than 760,000 Quebecers are affected with the disease. From this number, over 250,000 have uncontrolled diabetes. What's more, at least 200,000 Quebecers are unaware they have diabetes.

Physicians and Canadians Support Pharmacists' Expanded Role
As part of the Sustainable Solutions Report, national surveys were conducted of general practitioners and Canadians to determine their views on the role of pharmacists.  It found 88 per cent of doctors say they would be open to having more support from other health care professionals to help manage care for their patients with chronic conditions, like arthritis, diabetes, or hypertension.

Almost a third of family physicians (31 per cent) agree an expanded role for pharmacists will result in patients getting improved management of their chronic diseases. And, two in five (40 per cent) say patients will get quicker access to some services.  Physicians agree that an expanded role for pharmacists can benefit the health care system as a whole in ways such as increasing patient adherence with medications (63 per cent), reducing hospital re-admissions because of pharmacists conducting drug reviews (50 per cent), and patients getting ongoing lifestyle and disease counselling from pharmacists (39 per cent).

Canadians also want pharmacists to help them better manage their chronic conditions and would make use of their services. The vast majority of Canadians (94 per cent) agree pharmacists can play an important role in helping people with chronic conditions manage their health, and 87 per cent would like pharmacists to help make sure they take their medication as prescribed.  Research from the Canadian Association of Chain Drug Stores (CACDS) and the Canadian Pharmacists Association (CPhA) reported similar findings.

For the full Sustainable Solutions Report: A Focus on Managing Complex Chronic Diseases visit,

About Shoppers Drug Mart Corporation
Shoppers Drug Mart Corporation is one of the most recognized and trusted names in Canadian retailing.  The Company is the licensor of full-service retail drug stores operating under the name Shoppers Drug Mart (Pharmaprix in Québec).  With more than 1,244 Shoppers Drug Mart and Pharmaprix stores operating in prime locations in each province and two territories, the Company is one of the most convenient retailers in Canada.  The Company also licenses or owns 57 medical clinic pharmacies operating under the name Shoppers Simply Pharmacy (Pharmaprix Simplement Santé in Québec) and six luxury beauty destinations operating as Murale.  As well, the Company owns and operates 62 Shoppers Home Health Care stores, making it the largest Canadian retailer of home health care products and services.  In addition to its retail store network, the Company owns Shoppers Drug Mart Specialty Health Network Inc., a provider of specialty drug distribution, pharmacy and comprehensive patient support services, and MediSystem Technologies Inc., a provider of pharmaceutical products and services to long-term care facilities.


9000 Points of Care:  Improving Access to Affordable Healthcare, April 2013, pg. 20.
Available online at:
ii 9000 Points of Care:  Improving Access to Affordable Healthcare, April 2013, pg. 5.
Available online at:

SOURCE Shoppers Drug Mart Corporation

Image with caption: "Sustainable Solutions Report: A Focus on Managing Complex Chronic Diseases (CNW Group/Shoppers Drug Mart Corporation)". Image available at:

For further information:

Carolyne Lord Capital-Image
(514) 739-1188, ext. 249 

Tammy Smitham
Shoppers Drug Mart