Andrew Parkes leads Drug Trading, part of McKesson Canada’s banner network of independent pharmacies, with more than 900 Guardian and I.D.A. stores. “My role is to coordinate and facilitate services across the country – and to make sure we remain an attractive option for independent pharmacies,” says Parkes.
Education: University of Saskatchewan (Pharmacy)
Current role: President, Drug Trading, Markham, Ontario
Drug Trading helps pharmacists grow their business. How?
We take existing insight, information and expertise and leverage that for our pharmacies. We try to support delivery on all sides: the frontshop and the dispensary. Patient-focused services are the buzzword, and we need to make sure we are at the forefront of this. But what sometimes gets lost – and shouldn’t – is that our members still have an expectation we will continue to support them in traditional areas of pharmacy. The risk with focusing most of the attention on what’s new and innovative is that you can overlook the fundamentals of the business. We must do both. I’m entrusted as a pharmacist to see the role evolve, but the core of the business still needs to be nurtured.
Is advocacy part of the service you provide directly or indirectly? Is it an important value for Drug Trading?
We give a voice to 900 owners who would otherwise not have a collective impact.
Today there are different solutions being contemplated for the distribution of drugs and the communication of health information. We need to ensure that the smaller format, traditional pharmacies which DT represents are included in the plan for the future. There is a clear opportunity for independent pharmacy to deliver a consistent, familiar level of care. It is our responsibility to support our members and facilitate this opportunity.
What legacy would you like to leave to the pharmacy profession? What is most important to you as a pharmacist?
Community pharmacies give graduating pharmacists the opportunity to practise their profession in a manner consistent with their training. Also, independent pharmacy ownership continues to be a very viable business model. I want to make sure this message is delivered in the colleges across the country. Pharmacists of tomorrow need to be aware of the opportunity that community-based independent pharmacy presents. I am going to do all I can in the coming years to communicate this message.
How critical is advocacy in shaping and redefining the pharmacy profession?
We need to champion the role of community pharmacists within the system as the most accessible healthcare provider. There is important value in pharmacists being engaged with their patients throughout their lives. Independent pharmacists are a constant at the pharmacies they own, and their friendships with their patients lead to unique healthcare opportunities.
What tips do you have for pharmacists looking to provide the best quality service to their patients?
The biggest fundamental is the consistency of the relationship between pharmacists and their patients. You can’t underestimate the value of this. You are better able to provide service because you know someone. It’s not about corporate pharmacy versus community pharmacy. It’s about having a choice. At the community level, independent pharmacists have a unique opportunity to execute expanded practice programs thanks to their relationship with their patients. We need to support our members in these initiatives and they need to embrace the opportunity.
My dad was a pharmacist. He looked after people at a very high level. His locums complained that it was tough filling in for him. His customers were spoiled. My advice to pharmacists comes from my father: spoil your patients. When people are sick, when they’re not feeling well, that is what they deserve.