To relieve the congestion of the health system - The Ordre des pharmaciens du Québec calls for legislative changes by the end of 2011

MONTREAL, March 14 /CNW Telbec/ - The average wait in emergency rooms is 17 hours, physicians are overworked and pharmacists are restricted in their ability to help. The Ordre des pharmaciens du Québec has therefore submitted a proposal to the Government of Québec and to its partners and is calling for legislative changes by the end of 2011. "Seven days a week, pharmacists in Québec are forced to send their patients back to the walk-in clinic or emergency room just to get their prescriptions renewed or dosage adjusted. The same thing happens when people come to them with simple health problems they could treat. It makes no sense," states the Order's president, Diane Lamarre.  

"Everyday the skills of these highly educated health professionals are poorly utilized, depriving the public of this resource," adds Ms. Lamarre. "People ask pharmacists for help and the pharmacists want and can do more, but current legislation prevents them from doing so," she continues. Direct consequence: Quebecers have to wait, and they experience delays in beginning treatment and service interruptions.

The Ordre des pharmaciens du Québec has submitted a proposal to the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux to enable pharmacists to contribute more effectively to the health system. The proposed changes will require legislative amendments, however, so the Order is calling for a bill to be passed. "The current situation demands that changes be made rapidly. The needs of the public are such that we're counting on the legislation becoming effective by the end of the year," says Diane Lamarre. Many of these activities are already being performed by pharmacists in other Canadian provinces, in some cases, for a number of years.

The proposed changes would enable pharmacists to:

1)      Extend some prescriptions in accordance with precise criteria, in stable clinical situations;
2)      Adapt a prescription when necessary, for example, based on the patient's weight or allergies;
3)      Help resolve simple health problems like cold sores and seasonal allergies;
4)      Order certain laboratory tests, for example, to monitor the safety of a course of treatment (e.g., kidney function);
5)      Administer certain medications for the purpose of teaching patients how to do it (e.g., asthma inhalers) or meeting public health objectives.

As is the case elsewhere in Canada, pharmacists performing these new activities would be supervised. In the end, the Order's aim is to ensure that patients in need can see their physician. "Two million Quebecers do not have a family physician. These Quebecers have difficulty obtaining a diagnosis and meanwhile we keep telling people to go to the emergency department to renew their prescription or get treatment for seasonal allergies. We know it is possible to do better than this." In a survey of the public conducted for the Order by CROP in January 2010, 92% of respondents said they agreed (strongly or quite) that pharmacists should be able to renew or temporarily extend prescriptions and 91% said they trust pharmacists (absolutely or enough) to help them deal with simple problems.

An online campaign:

During Pharmacy Awareness Week, taking place in Québec from March 13-19, the Ordre des pharmaciens du Québec is launching the website where its proposals will be brought to life in three video capsules starring three real-life pharmacists. Each capsule illustrates the current limitations of the system and what a pharmacist could  do to help with a patient's problem.

"This campaign shows how simple changes would enable pharmacists to provide solutions to these problems. Starting tomorrow, if we wanted, we could give the public better access to care and help our health system become more effective" concludes Diane Lamarre.

In addition to the microsite, the campaign will be seen on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. 

The Ordre des pharmaciens du Québec

The mission of the Ordre des pharmaciens du Québec is to ensure the protection of the public. Its membership comprises more than 7,700 pharmacists practising in over 1,700 private pharmacies and public health institutions in Québec.

/NOTE TO PHOTO EDITORS: A photo accompanying this release is available at Images are free to accredited members of the media/


For further information:

Contact:   Julie Villeneuve, Communications Officer, Ordre des pharmaciens du Québec
For further information (including requests for interviews):
Chantal Neveu,, 514-927-1052 or;
France Gaignard,, 514-616-7705

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