Independent Pharmacists Association of Ontario warns that recent regulatory changes under the Ontario Drug Benefits Program will have serious effects on seniors and vulnerable patients



    MISSISSAUGA, ON, July 31 /CNW/ - The Independent Pharmacists Association
of Ontario (IPO) is concerned about the Ministry of Health and Long-Term
Care's recent decision to implement changes in regards to the dispensing of
pill packs in Ontario.
    These pill packs (also called "blister packs") provide seniors and other
vulnerable patients with an easier and more reliable method for taking their
medications properly. However, with recent regulatory changes under the
Ontario Drug Benefit (ODB) Program, to take effect on August 1, 2008,
pharmacists will be required to dispense at one time the Maximum Quantity of
medications, except if special conditions are met that would allow otherwise.
While the new regulations does not preclude pharmacists from dispensing pill
packs weekly, the ministry has changed the compensation for pharmacists to
only allow them to collect dispensing fees twice per month.
    These regulatory changes adversely affect seniors and particularly those
in rural and remote locations with limited access to primary care. As
professionals, independent pharmacists believe that more interaction with
vulnerable patients, such as those suffering from early dementia or other
cognitive challenges, by pharmacists improves health outcomes and reduces
medication errors. Studies have shown that allowing patients to stay at home
and receive homecare costs less than requiring patients to enter long-term
care facilities - a potential outcome if a patient's regular access to a
pharmacist's care is reduced.
    "Blister packing is like any other independent living aid available to
Ontario's seniors, such as walkers, home oxygen, rails and bandages. Changing
the way pharmacists are able to distribute blister packing to patients,
particularly seniors, is taking away an essential tool in enabling patients to
live independently for as long as possible," said Ben Shenouda, President,
IPO.
    In addition, this regulatory change is at odds with the previous Minister
of Health and Long-Term Care's remarks made at the Aging at Home Innovations
Showcase on April 23, 2008, in Toronto. At the showcase, the former minister
indicated the importance of the province's aging at home strategy because of
its ability to improve the lives of seniors who choose to live at home as well
as the healthcare services they receive.

    The IPO is a non profit organization and is the "voice" of Independent
Pharmacists across Ontario. The IPO's Board of Directors is representational
of its membership, a professional and ethnically diverse group of pharmacy
business owners. The IPO was formed in 2006 to ensure the sustainability and
vibrancy of independent community pharmacies across the province. IPO has over
1,000 members representing over 600 stores -- and its membership is growing
steadily.
    Please visit our website at www.ipoassociation.com.





For further information:

For further information: Ben Shenouda, IPO President, Tel: (905)
792-3011, Email: bens@ipoassociation.com

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INDEPENDENT PHARMACISTS ASSOCIATION OF ONTARIO

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