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Pharmacy veteran Jeff May cycles into Remedy Holdings

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No one told Jeff May a career in pharmacy would be easy. But in his 30 years in the industry, the avid cyclist has moved around more than most.

By Jane Auster

Photograph by Brandon Gray

After gaining years of experience in clinical pharmacy, community pharmacy, and teaching, including helping Daryl Katz set up the original Medicine Shoppe franchise in Canada, he joined management at Shoppers Drug Mart before taking an executive position at Target. Now, as Executive Vice President and General Manager of Remedy Holdings Inc. since last June, he’s immersing himself in new challenges – and loving his life.

McKesson Canada acquired the Remedy’s Rx banner nearly a year ago. What’s your strategy for Remedy Holdings (RHI)?
Our strategy is highly focused to grow the business in the locations where we currently operate, and look for other opportunities to expand. We are also leveraging the expertise of our pharmacists and nurses to expand our reach in the specialty long-term care and retirement sector. We have the opportunity to innovate in this sector where pharmacy has not done so before.

Why this particular business?

Our long-term care business is in a unique area that is all about partnerships with providers who support people who need help from a multidisciplinary team. We recognize that people want to remain in their homes as long as they can, but we also know why they tend to move into facilities – reasons like managing multiple and complex medications. We see a role with our partners to give people the tools they need to remain in their homes, to help them manage their medication and health needs. In the traditional retail model there’s a very high level of care, but I’m not sure it’s a high enough level of complex care. That’s what we do every day in our specialty care business.

Do you see this as a growing niche?
The specialty care area is crying for innovation, and we think there are different ways of offering that. We have the track record, we’re known for our quality and individualized service, and we offer a unique inter-professional approach to support residents in their facilities or homes. As the healthy, independent retirement living sector grows, we see the opportunity to grow in that space.

With the McKesson acquisition, is Remedy’s still all about the independent?

We are going to continue to operate our 23 Remedy’s Rx banner stores and support our pharmacists to excel in their communities. And, we are going to evolve the specialty pharmacy business model to provide a greater level of care. It’s not all about the independent anymore; it’s all about partnerships and different ways for pharmacists to contribute to the care of aging and higher-need Canadians.

What are your goals at Remedy Holdings?

I want to be part of evolving the specialty care business and offering solutions for those with complex medication needs outside the traditional retail model. I’m excited by the prospect of creating new models of collaborative care with our current business partners and other healthcare providers. It’s a story that hasn’t finished yet. If you think of Canadians of a certain age who want to live at home longer, but you then consider their complex medication needs, you realize that we haven’t figured it out yet.

What will it take to change the existing model?

More innovation. First you have to have an efficient model for service delivery. It’s so much more than just providing medication. Pharmacists are already providing medication counselling, services, and collaborative care, and they are working with physicians and families to provide the best patient care. But we need to do more.

Do you see yourself personally in this picture?

I recently turned 52, so I do have a runway ahead of me. But the choice I was given, accidentally if you will, pushed me into thinking of what areas of healthcare interest me the most. Working in this sector, I am getting back to my roots as a pharmacist. I spent my first three years in a community hospital in Edmonton. I did clinical consultations to a geriatric ward and saw how pharmacists can contribute in a multidisciplinary environment. Even before there was scope of practice change, pharmacists talked about helping to solve people’s problems outside of just dispensing with solutions that are more about wellness and the whole health of the individual. Now we can take that to a whole new level, and I’m excited for that opportunity.

Snapshot:
 Remedy Holdings Inc. operates 23 retail pharmacies under the Remedy’s Rx Banner program, 14 as traditional community pharmacies or inside medical clinics, the rest within Loblaws grocery banners.
 Stores are located in BC, Alberta, Ontario and Newfoundland.
 RHI also operates 13 Remedy’sRx Specialty Pharmacies that service long-term care, assisted and independent living facilities, and group homes in Ontario, Alberta, and B.C.