OPA pledges to have immunization and injection in 100 per cent of pharmacies by the end of 2013

Expanded scope of practice will be focus of Ontario Pharmacists' Association 2012 Conference

TORONTO, June 13, 2012 /CNW/ - Ontario pharmacists are ready to give health care a shot in the arm. In anticipation of having an expanded role to play in Ontario's health care system, the Ontario Pharmacists' Association (OPA) is driving to have immunization and injection in 100 per cent of pharmacies by the end of 2013.

"We believe immunization and injection by pharmacists is one of the province's best ways to reduce costs and increase vaccination rates," says Darryl Moore, Chair of the Board of Ontario Pharmacists' Association. "Ontario pharmacists are committed to providing greater access to care for Ontarians and when approved, we would like to have an immunizing pharmacist in every pharmacy by December 2013."

While changes to the Pharmacy Act to enable pharmacists to administer routine injections and inhalations have yet to be announced by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, hundreds of pharmacists have made the investment in their future, by having already completed OPA's Injection and Immunization Training Program. More will receive training Thursday, June 14 ahead of OPA's annual Conference in London, Ont.

Beyond, training for pharmacists, OPA will invest in health outcomes research to further validate the benefit pharmacists' expanded role can have, not only on system sustainability, but also on patient access to care.  "We will continue to work with the Ministry to ensure uptake of expanded scope as the various components come on line," says Dennis Darby, CEO of OPA. "We will also work with industry partners such as the Canadian Association of Chain Drug Stores, to see that our vision is met."

The Canadian Association of Chain Drug Stores (CACDS) is fully supportive of the OPA's vision to have injection and immunization services in 100 per cent of pharmacies by the end of 2013, notes Rita Winn Vice Chair of the Canadian Association of Chain Drug Stores (CACDS).  "Community pharmacies support pharmacists, who are highly trained healthcare professionals, to fully utilize their skills in helping Ontarians access quality health care at convenient locations and times.  By allowing pharmacists to practice to the full scope of their ability, community pharmacy can help relieve pressures within Ontario's healthcare system and help government deliver effective patient services."

More than 400 pharmacists and industry stakeholders, including Deb Matthews, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, are expected to attend OPA's 2012 Conference taking place June 14-16 in London, Ontario. This year's conference lineup has been designed to help pharmacy professionals embrace the changes that have occurred in Ontario's health care system and thrive as a trusted health care provider under the new scope of practice.

Sessions on nose and throat issues, pain, genitourinary and gastrointestinal tract issues, and dermatological disorders will also take place to allow pharmacists to increase their clinical knowledge and enhance the care they provide to their patients.

Ontario pharmacists show growing support for immunizations and injections

As health care needs increase and become more complex, Ontario pharmacists are showing increasing support for an expanded role. In a 2010Campaign Research Inc. survey of OPA members, 77 per cent said an expanded scope of practice should be a top policy priority, up 32 per cent from 2009.

OPA is continuing to work with government to ensure expanded scope is embraced by the pharmacist community. Other jurisdictions in Canada have authorized pharmacists to provide routine injections of immunizations and vaccines with great success, improving uptake by patients. Currently, all 50 U.S. states as well as the provinces of British Columbia, Alberta and New Brunswick have authorized trained pharmacists to administer injections, and the result has been increased vaccination rates.

Almost two-thirds of Ontarians (61 per cent) have also indicated support, saying they would go to their pharmacist for administration of drugs by injection and inhalation, including immunization, if they knew pharmacists had the appropriate training and were authorized by the government to do so, according to findings from a recent Ipsos-Reid survey.

Pharmacists could also treat minor ailments

In addition to provision of routine immunizations and injections, Ontario pharmacists have a vision to initiate therapy for the prevention of travel-related illnesses and prescribing for a defined set of minor ailments. Ontarians would benefit greatly if pharmacists were enabled to prescribe for select minor ailments. In many circumstances, patients seek advice, assistance and treatment of self-limiting ailments like skin rashes or eye infections.

Almost nine in 10 Ontarians (88 per cent) say they would go to their pharmacist for appropriate medications or advice for minor ailments such as dermatitis, psoriasis, cold sores and athlete's foot, if they knew that their pharmacist had appropriate training and was authorized by the government to do so, according to the recent Ipsos-Reid survey.

The biggest motivation driving Ontarians to be "more likely" to go to their pharmacist rather than a walk-in clinic or doctor's office for support on minor ailments is convenience:   they wouldn't have to make an appointment (77 per cent); wouldn't have to wait in a doctor's waiting room (76 per cent); could visit a pharmacy on evenings and weekends (76 per cent); and their pharmacist would communicate his or her activities to the doctor (75 per cent).

Pharmacists in Ontario are highly regarded and recognized as the medication management experts of the health care team.  They have an in-depth knowledge of hundreds of medications, and are one of the most accessible health care providers, working closely with other health care professionals, patients, and caregivers to advise on potential side effects, interactions, and any necessary adjustments to medications.

About Ontario Pharmacists' Association

Ontario Pharmacists' Association is the professional association that represents the views and interests of more than 13,600 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:

Michelle MacLeod
Hill + Knowlton Strategies

Lindsay George
Ontario Pharmacists' Association
416-441-0788 x 4236

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