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Canadian report and previous experience show pharmacists can wear more than one lab coat

BY Alaric DeArment

A new report released by Shoppers Drug Mart and Pharmaprix shows that the Canadian healthcare system could save C$1.4 billion to C$1.9 billion by expanding the role of pharmacists.

While there are some important differences between the healthcare systems in the United States and Canada, both face common problems, in particular, a rising burden of chronic disease and rising costs. But they also have in common a way to alleviate some of the burden on physicians and some of the costs: increasing the kinds of services that pharmacists can provide.

California is already in the early stages of doing this. Last month, Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a bill that allows pharmacists to perform physical assessments, order and interpret laboratory tests, refer patients to other providers, work with providers to evaluate and manage patients’ health issues and start, adjust and terminate medications under physician protocol.

As the Canadian study noted, chronic diseases affect 37% of Canadians and are a factor in 70% of deaths, with associated medical costs estimated at $42 billion and expected to rise to $53 billion by 2015. In the United States, the Milken Institute estimates that chronic disease costs the healthcare system $1 trillion per year, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 75% of healthcare dollars goes to treatment of chronic diseases.

It’s already known that pharmacists provide services like vaccinations for lower prices than physicians do, and in a more convenient setting, typically with no appointment needed. Outside the retail setting, pharmacists also have proven to be effective providers of other healthcare services.

For example, according to a 2011 report by the U.S. Public Health Service, pharmacists working for the Indian Health Service with pharmacist-physician collaborative practice agreements under the National Clinical Pharmacy Specialist program deliver direct patient care through disease management for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, respiratory disease, end-stage renal disease, pain management and tobacco cessation. Following an initial diagnosis, the scope of services the IHS pharmacists provide includes physical assessments, prescriptions, ordering lab tests, clinical assessments, therapeutic plans, patient education, care coordination and followup care. "Thus, pharmacists in these clinics perform direct patient care services and document the findings similar to any other healthcare provider, but with recognition and revenue generation capacity only in a limited number of areas." In the 13 years before the report’s release, 278 IHS pharmacists had been certified under the NCPS program.

In the United States, an estimated 30 million people are expected to become eligible for healthcare coverage thanks to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, whereas Canadians already are eligible, thanks to universal health care. But both countries have similar issues: According to a report by the National Academy of Sciences, the United States has fewer physicians per capita than most other developed countries, particularly in primary care; meanwhile, according to a report last year by the Canadian Institute for Health Information, Canada’s healthcare system is behind other countries in terms of how long patients must wait for service.

Thus, in both cases, pharmacists can step in to relieve some of the burden placed on doctors. Every vaccination a pharmacist performs in a drug store is one a physician doesn’t have to perform during a routine appointment, and every lab test ordered by a pharmacist is one a physician doesn’t have to order. For the sake of patient access to health care, it’s time for pharmacists to wear more than one lab coat.

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CVS Caremark to provide $25K in grants to honor ‘#GivingTuesday’ campaign

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — The CVS Caremark Charitable Trust, a private foundation created by CVS Caremark, will provide $25,000 in grants in honor of #GivingTuesday, a national movement when charities, individuals, schools, businesses and other community organizations will come together on Dec. 3 to create a national day of giving back.

As part of CVS Caremark’s #GivingTuesday initiative, CVS Caremark colleagues who volunteer their time are invited to nominate a local organization in their community to receive a grant from the CVS Caremark Charitable Trust. The CVS Caremark Charitable Trust will randomly select 25 organizations from colleagues’ submissions and announce the grantees on #GivingTuesday.

"CVS Caremark colleagues bring our values of caring and collaboration to life all year long by volunteering with organizations that are helping the people we serve, every day," stated Eileen Howard Boone, president of CVS Caremark Charitable Trust. "We’re excited to participate in #GivingTuesday to honor our colleagues and their commitment to their local communities and are proud to join a national movement that promotes the spirit of volunteerism and giving back."

The national campaign was created in 2012 to spark a day of giving at the start of the annual holiday season, following Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It celebrates charities, individuals, schools, businesses and other community organizations who come together to support charitable causes, and encourages everyone to participate in a national day dedicated to giving back.

CVS Caremark will announce its #GivingTuesday grantees on Dec. 3 through social media.

 

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Shoppers Drug Mart ‘disappointed’ with court’s decision on private-label generics

BY Antoinette Alexander

TORONTO — Canadian pharmacy retailer Shoppers Drug Mart has announced that the Supreme Court of Canada has upheld the Dec. 23, 2011, decision of the Court of Appeal of Ontario that restored the prohibition on private-label generic drug products in the Province of Ontario, which was subsequent to a decision of the Ontario Divisional Court dated Feb. 3, 2011, that declared the regulatory restrictions in respect of private-label generic drug products to be invalid.

The company stated that while it respects the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada, it is disappointed with the outcome.

Shoppers Drug Mart has more than 1,246 Shoppers Drug Mart and Pharmaprix stores operating in each province and two territories.

 

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