Pharmacy U

Pharmacists take the lead – new research report shows half of Canadians not taking medications as directed

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Half of Canadians with chronic diseases don’t take their medication as prescribed – leading to serious health complications, hospitalization and even death. 

A new report from Shoppers Drug Mart and CARP – A New Vision for Aging in Canada concludes that pharmacist interventions are helping to keep Canadians on their medications, thereby improving patient health and saving the system health care dollars.

Although innocently missing a dose may not seem like a matter of life and death, not adhering to medication direction can have very serious implications.  When medications are not taken properly or given the chance to be effective, a condition could worsen or complications like blindness, a heart attack, or a stroke could arise.  Non-adherence causes 69 per cent of medication-related hospitalizations and the estimated annual cost to the health care system is $7-9 billion.

The new Sustainable Solutions Report: Pharmacist Interventions in Medication Adherence outlines the types of services pharmacists can now offer in many provinces to support adherence.  They include follow-up calls to ensure patients are picking up prescription refills on time; assessing, adapting, and renewing prescriptions; and providing medication in compliance packs so those on multiple treatments can ensure they’re taking the right medication at the right time of day.  The report also highlights clinical research that clearly demonstrates these types of interventions are having a real impact on improving patients’ adherence.

“In recent years, provincial governments have recognized how pharmacists can offer accessible, convenient services that improve the health of patients and save already stretched healthcare dollars,” says Mike Motz, President, Shoppers Drug Mart.  “This report clearly shows how further expansion of pharmacist services can help to resolve medication issues on the spot and keep patients on track.”

Older Canadians At Greater Risk
Older Canadians are particularly at risk because they are more likely to be on a medication for chronic conditions or to be on multiple treatments at once.  CARP members on average have three chronic medical conditions and, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, almost two-thirds of those aged 65 and over take five or more prescription drugs.iv

According to a national poll of CARP members aged 50 and over, 86 per cent admit to having at least one adherence issue.  Of those, 80 per cent have unintentionally skipped a dose, 28 per cent admit they have missed or been late in refilling a prescription, and 24 per cent have missed, or delayed renewing a prescription.

“Our members have strong relationships with their pharmacists and count on them to make sure they take their medication correctly,” says Moses Znaimer, President/CEO of CARP – A New Vision of Aging for Canada.  “We partnered with Shoppers Drug Mart on this report because we fully support expanding the role of pharmacists in encouraging medication adherence in order to improve the health of Canadians and the sustainability of our health care system.”

For the full Sustainable Solutions Report: Pharmacist Interventions in Medication Adherence, visit