Press Releases

Improving Patient Safety and Saving Health Care Dollars: Pharmacists Can Play Key Role in Reducing Drug Therapy Problems

Aug 26, 2014

New research report shows pharmacist medications reviews can help older Canadians manage multiple medications and avoid turning their treatments into a health risk

TORONTO, Aug. 26, 2014 /CNW/ - (TSX : L) – Canada's Premiers are gathering in Charlottetown for the latest Council of the Federation meeting starting on August 26, and health reform will likely be a key topic.  The pharmacy community urges provinces to consider further expanding pharmacists' role as they can make important contributions to improving patient outcomes, reducing costs and ensuring the sustainability of the health care system.  According to a new report from Shoppers Drug Mart and CARP, the Sustainable Solutions Report: A Focus on Pharmacist Medication Reviews, one way to make real change now is for governments to support improved access to medication reviews.

These one-on-one medication reviews with a pharmacist can help individuals gain a better understanding of their medications and avoid potential health risks.  These are particularly important since many aging adults are on multiple medications at once for various conditions – e.g., a new poll of CARP members found a third are currently taking four to five medications.i  This is worrying since being on numerous medications can increase the risk of drug therapy problems like adverse drug reactions (ADRs), negative drug interactions, improper dosing and medication adherence issues.

"This new report includes data demonstrating both the public and medical professionals see the value in pharmacists conducting medication reviews," says Domenic Pilla, President, Shoppers Drug Mart.  "Most of our provincial governments have begun to recognize the benefits and have instituted funding for this important pharmacy service.  We now have the opportunity to make the eligibility requirements and funding for this service more consistent across the entire country to improve patient care and safety."

The pharmacy community is calling on provincial governments to take a comprehensive and universal approach to the provision of medication reviews.  Where medication reviews are funded, which is eight out of 10 provinces, there are significant inconsistencies in the eligibility requirements necessary to have the consultation covered.  And, many individuals may not take advantage of medication reviews due to a low awareness of their availability.

What are Medication Reviews?
The goal of medication reviews is to ensure people use their medications safely, and to better identify and manage any concerns with how the patient takes their prescription medications, over-the-counter medications and natural health products.  The pharmacist walks through each of the medications, how to best take them (e.g., with food or at night), and discusses what side effects may occur and how to avoid them.

Why are Medication Reviews Important?
These reviews provide the opportunity to identify and prevent drug therapy problems, including ADRs and medication non-adherence issues.  A recent survey of Canadian family physicians found more than three quarters of them (79 per cent) believe expanding the role of pharmacists (including offering services like medication reviews) will have an impact on reducing the incidence of ADRs.ii  This is significant since cases of drug therapy problems are likely to increase as our population ages and more are faced with managing multiple chronic illnesses with numerous therapies.  Today, approximately five per cent of all emergency room visits and six per cent of all hospital stays are the result of ADRs.iii  And, medication non-adherence results in an annual cost of $7-9 billion to the health care system,iv and 125,000 unnecessary deaths per year.v

How can Access to Medication Reviews be Improved?
"This is an extremely important  issue for our members since many have been taking advantage of this service and they tell us it gives them peace of mind and helps them use their medication more effectively," says Ross Mayot, Vice-President and General Manager, CARP—A New Vision of Aging for Canada.  "We need to create a standard and consistent medication review program across the country to ensure that Canadians have the same access to care and safety no matter where they live."

Where medication reviews are funded, steps need to be taken to establish comprehensive and consistent eligibility criteria since they currently vary greatly by region.  For example, Alberta has one of the most comprehensive medication reviews programs – patients must have at least one chronic medical condition from a pre-defined list and be taking three or more prescription medications.  In contrast, British Columbia patients need to be taking five different qualifying medications, but may have two reviews per year.  Seniors from New Brunswick and PEI taking three or more prescription medications for chronic conditions are eligible for one medication review per year whereas, seniors from Saskatchewan must be taking five or more chronic disease medications to be eligible.  The Ontario program is available to any Ontarian taking three or more prescription medications for chronic conditions, and it also offers different assessments based on patient needs (e.g., at-home consultation, diabetes patients, etc.).

And finally, where medication reviews are available, there needs to be a greater emphasis on promoting the service.  Getting the word out will require a joint effort between government, pharmacists and other health care professionals who can refer the service.  A new survey of individuals from British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario who recently completed a medication review found the overwhelming majority (84 per cent) said they heard about the medication review from their

The good news is the same survey found people had an extremely positive experience and would recommend it to others.  One in two surveyed strongly agreed medication reviews are beneficial and the majority (85 per cent) were likely to make medication reviews a regular part of managing their medications and their health.vii  A further 79 per cent said they would recommend medication reviews to others they know who also take prescription medications. viii

For the full Sustainable Solutions Report: A Focus on Pharmacist Medication Reviews, 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 1,256 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 50 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. Shoppers Drug Mart is a unique and independent operating division of Loblaw Companies Limited.

About CARP
CARP—A New Vision of Aging for Canada is a national, non-partisan, non-profit organization committed to advocating for a New Vision of Aging for Canada, social change that will bring financial security, equitable access to health care and freedom from discrimination. CARP seeks to ensure that the marketplace serves the needs and expectations of our generation and provides value-added benefits, products and services to our members. Through our network of chapters across Canada, CARP is dedicated to building a sense of community and shared values among our members in support of CARP's mission.

CARP calls for national standards of accessible and affordable health care and in its "One Patient" paper, for the healthcare system to provide a seamless continuum of care that ordinary families can navigate as they take increasingly more responsibility for their post-acute and chronic care needs. Community pharmacists play a vital role in a multi-disciplinary care team especially in preventing adverse drug reactions and interactions – leading preventable causes of serious injury and death among older Canadians.   Please visit for more information.

About Loblaw Companies Limited

Loblaw Companies Limited is Canada's food and pharmacy leader, the nation's largest retailer, and the majority unit holder of Choice Properties Real Estate Investment Trust. Loblaw provides Canadians with grocery, pharmacy, health and beauty, apparel, general merchandise, banking, and wireless mobile products and services. With more than 2,300 corporate, franchised and Associate-owned locations, Loblaw, its franchisees, and Associate-owners employ approximately 192,000 full- and part-time employees, making it one of Canada's largest private sector employers.

Loblaw's purpose - Live Life Well - puts first the needs and well-being of Canadians who make one billion transactions annually in the Company's stores.  Loblaw is positioned to meet and exceed those needs in many ways: convenient locations; more than 1,050 grocery stores that span the value spectrum from discount to specialty; full-service pharmacies at more than 1,250 Shoppers Drug Mart and Pharmaprix locations and more than 500 Loblaw locations; no-fee banking with PC Financial; affordable Joe Fresh fashion and family apparel; and three of Canada's top consumer brands in Life Brand®, no name® and President's Choice®. Through the PC Plus™ and Shoppers Optimum® loyalty programs, more than one in every three Canadians are rewarded for shopping with the companies.

For more information, visit Loblaw's website at and Loblaw's issuer profile at

[i] Shoppers Drug Mart and CARP.  Sustainable Solutions Report: A Focus on Pharmacist Medication Reviews, 2014.     Available online at
[ii] Shoppers Drug Mart and CARP.  Sustainable Solutions Report: A Focus on Pharmacist Medication Reviews, 2014.     Available online at
[iii] Forster AJ, Asmis TR, Clark HD, et al.  Ottawa Hospital Patient Safety Study:  Incidence and timing of adverse events in patients admitted to a Canadian Teaching Hospital.  CMAJ 2004; 170(8): 1235-40.
[iv] BC Medical Journal.  Accessed May 9, 2014.
[v] BC Medical Journal.  Accessed May 9, 2014.
[vi] Shoppers Drug Mart and CARP.  Sustainable Solutions Report: A Focus on Pharmacist Medication Reviews, 2014.     Available online at
[vii] Shoppers Drug Mart and CARP.  Sustainable Solutions Report: A Focus on Pharmacist Medication Reviews, 2014.     Available online at
[viii] Shoppers Drug Mart and CARP.  Sustainable Solutions Report: A Focus on Pharmacist Medication Reviews, 2014.     Available online at

SOURCE Shoppers Drug Mart Corporation

For further information: David Mircheff, Environics Communications, (416) 969-2776,; Tammy Smitham, Shoppers Drug Mart, 416-490-2892,; Susan Park, CARP, 416 607-2471,