Ontario pharmacists welcome expanded services to improve patient care and increase access

TORONTO, May 4 /CNW/ - Pharmacists across the province applaud the Ontario government's decision to provide seniors and Ontario Drug Benefit recipients with more access to pharmacist consultations to ensure medications are being used safely and effectively.

"We're very pleased that the Ontario government has introduced changes that recognize some of the valuable services pharmacists provide on behalf of their patients on the public drug program," said Dennis Darby, Chief Executive Officer of the Ontario Pharmacists' Association. "Along with the MedsCheck program, these services promote healthier outcomes by helping to ensure patients are on the right medication, at the right dose, at the right time."

The expanded pharmacy professional services include consultations with prescribers on issues such as potential adverse drug or allergic reactions, duplication of therapy, and changes to dosage levels; and followup consultations with patients to ensure medication is being taken, and is working, as intended.

"Funding professional services will help pharmacists provide the best care possible for their patients," said Janet McCutchon, Chair of the Ontario Pharmacists' Association.  "The expanded programs will help enable pharmacists to create and maintain a complete and accurate record of a patient's medication history, support interprofessional collaboration and reinforce the vital role of the pharmacist as the medication management expert within the healthcare team."

With their highly specialized training, pharmacists often identify concerns with a new or repeat prescription: for example, a patient may need additional drug therapy for an untreated condition; a drug may not be effective; or the dosage may be too low.  The patient may be experiencing an adverse drug reaction, possibly related to an allergy or a conflict with another medication or food; or the dose could be dangerously high - the patient may, either accidentally or on purpose, be taking too much. Sometimes there are problems with compliance: a patient is refusing to take the drug, or else not taking it properly.  Some prescriptions are found to be fraudulent, or have been altered. In consultation with the prescriber, the pharmacist helps determine whether the prescription should be filled as prescribed, not filled, or changed.

"The changes announced today provide important recognition of the value of these professional services," Darby said.

Later this year, Ontario's pharmacists will implement a professional appointment-based clinical services program, including in-depth assessment on how to better manage a chronic disease like diabetes or asthma; training on how to effectively use devices like blood pressure monitors and asthma peak flow meters at home; and support to quit smoking.

"Together with the successful MedsCheck program, these services will enable pharmacists to provide a more thorough review of a patient's medication therapy and contribute even more to positive health outcomes through improved chronic disease management," Darby said.

MedsCheck enables pharmacists to provide eligible Ontarians with an annual appointment to review medications and ensure their safe and effective use.  The program also enables Ontario pharmacists to provide one-on-one consultations for patients with diabetes, long-term care home residents, and people who have difficulty travelling to a pharmacy.

"By making better use of pharmacists - through changes such as these - we can improve patient care, take pressure off family physicians, emergency rooms and walk-in clinics, reduce wait times and hospitals stays, and help increase the efficiency and effectiveness of our healthcare system," Darby said.

The Ontario Pharmacists' Association is the professional association that represents the views and interests of more than 12,000 pharmacists and pharmacists-in-training across the province. The Association works to inspire excellence in the profession and practice of pharmacy, and to promote wellness for patients.

SOURCE Ontario Pharmacists' Association

For further information:

or to arrange an interview: dmcnorgan@opatoday.com or 416-441-0788 ext. 4266

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