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Shoppers Drug Mart, Morneau Shepell team up to faciliate flu vaccines to employees

BY Antoinette Alexander

TORONTO — Shoppers Drug Mart and Morneau Shepell, a provider of employee assistance programs and pension and benefit services, are working together to provide Morneau Shepell’s clients with a more convenient way to offer flu vaccines to their employees. 

Through the partnership, employees can get their flu shot at a Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacy by walking in at a time that works best for them. Employees also can use a new online scheduling tool to book an appointment to get vaccinated. Employees will simply need to log on to their internal employee website, and click on a link to the Shoppers Drug Mart flu scheduler where they can select a time to get a flu shot for themselves and their family members.

"Pharmacists are highly trained healthcare professionals. and with Shoppers Drug Mart conveniently located across the country, they are so easily accessible," stated Marilynne Madigan, managing partner of Health and Benefits in Ontario at Morneau Shepell. "We are excited to work with Shoppers Drug Mart to provide our clients’ employees and loved ones with convenient access to flu vaccines."

According to Health Canada, each year anywhere from 3.4 million to 8.6 million Canadians come down with the flu, and it can result in severe consequences for many. Not only does influenza have a serious impact on the health of Canadians, but it also disrupts the workplace, as thousands of employees across the country are forced to stay home because they are sick or they have to take care of a loved one.

"It’s great to see Morneau Shepell and their clients making flu vaccinations a priority, as it is one of the most reliable ways to protect against the flu," stated Dorian Lo, EVP pharmacy and health care at Shoppers Drug Mart. "And, an added benefit of getting vaccinated by a pharmacist is that people can get useful advice about other preventive measures at the same time."

Approximately 1.5 million work days are lost in Canada each year due to the flu, and the resulting health care and lost productivity costs $1 billion. A study out of the University of Pittsburgh found vaccinating employees early in the flu season can save companies between $63 and $95 per employee, and vaccinating an entire firm of 150 employees early could save a business between $9,450 and $14,250. Fall is the best time to get the vaccine, as it takes two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against the influenza virus infection and that protection will last roughly six months.

Pharmacists are currently able to administer flu vaccinations for those older than 5 years old in the following provinces: British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.  In those provinces where this is not the case, Shoppers Drug Mart is working with other healthcare professionals to arrange for flu clinics to be made available to Morneau Shepell clients and their employees.

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Target to finish 2013 Canadian store openings

BY Alaric DeArment

MISSISSAUGA, Ontario — Target is on track to open all the stores it intends to in Canada, the mass merchandise retailer said Monday.

Target aid it would open its remaining 33 stores scheduled for 2013 in November, including the first stores in New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland provinces. Thirty-one stores will open on Nov. 13, and the remaining two will open on Nov. 22. The retailer had 124 Canadian store openings planned for the year and said it would announce additional store openings at a later date.

"The final store openings for this year mark a major milestone in Target’s history," Target Canada president Tony Fisher said. "The goal for our Canadian expansion was to open 124 stores across all 10 provinces in 2013, and we are proud to say that with the help of more than 20,000 Canadian team members nationwide, we have accomplished this unprecedented undertaking."

 

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Federal government must find alternatives to rescheduling hydrocodone combination drugs

BY Alaric DeArment

The Food and Drug Administration plans to officially recommend that products containing 15 mg or less of the opioid painkiller hydrocodone be rescheduled as Schedule II controlled substances, from the current Schedule III classification. While the idea is to combat abuse and misuse of the drugs, pharmacy groups say the rescheduling would make them harder to obtain for patients who legitimately need them.

The desire to combat abuse and misuse of prescription drugs — now a worse problem in the United States than cocaine or heroin — is laudable, but unlike those two drugs, hydrocodone has a legitimate use as a painkiller, and it’s the people who are using it properly and legally who will end up losing.

Most opioid painkillers are already Schedule II drugs, including Purdue Pharma’s OxyContin (oxycodone) extended-release tablets and Johnson & Johnson’s Duragesic (fentanyl) patch, as well as single-entity hydrocodone products like Zogenix’s recently approved drug Zohydro ER. But some drugs that combine a low-dose opioid with another analgesic, including AbbVie’s Vicodin (hydrocodone; acetaminophen) and J&J’s Tylenol with Codeine, are still Schedule III.

For the Drug Enforcement Administration’s purposes, the distinction between CII and CIII is that the former indicates a much higher potential for abuse and dependence than the latter. But for patients who need those drugs, it’s an even bigger difference. Under federal law, a prescription for a CIII drug is good for up to six months or five refills, whichever occurs first. But a CII drug cannot be refilled; instead, the physician must write multiple prescriptions to be filled sequentially over a period of up to 90 days.

For patients who suffer from chronic pain, it should be obvious why rescheduling such drugs as Vicodin could be a problem. It would also represent a change from the FDA’s previous resistance to rescheduling hydrocodone combination drugs, in contrast with the DEA’s push for it.

The DEA has a point. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes on Health, Vicodin was the most-abused drug among 12th graders after marijuana. But if the interest is in preventing abuse and misuse, there are alternatives to stricter laws. The National Community Pharmacists Association had a better idea when it suggested electronic prescription drug monitoring and tracking systems. Tamper-resistant features similar to the ones now on OxyContin and Opana ER would also help to discourage abuse.

 

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