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Ontario pharmacists eye wider scope of practice
June 14th, 2012
TORONTO – With pharmacists in Canada slated to expand their scope of practice under health reform, the Ontario Pharmacists' Association (OPA) aims to have immunization and injection in all pharmacies in the province by the end of 2013.
OPA said that although changes to the Pharmacy Act that would enable pharmacists to administer routine injections and inhalations have yet to be announced by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, hundreds of pharmacists have prepared to offer such services by completing the associations Injection and Immunization Training Program. More are due to get training ahead of OPA's 2012 Conference, held June 14 to 16 in London, Ontario.
"We believe immunization and injection by pharmacists is one of the province's best ways to reduce costs and increase vaccination rates," OPA chairman Darryl Moore said in a statement. "Ontario pharmacists are committed to providing greater access to care for Ontarians and, when approved, we would like to have an immunizing pharmacist in every pharmacy by December 2013."
OPA noted that it plans to invest in health outcomes research to demonstrate the benefit of a bigger health care role for pharmacists, including expanded patient access to care.
"We will continue to work with the ministry to ensure uptake of expanded scope as the various components come on line," commented Dennis Darby, OPA's chief executive officer. "We will also work with industry partners such as the Canadian Association of Chain Drug Stores [CACDS] to see that our vision is met."
In a 2010 Campaign Research Inc. survey of OPA members, 77% said an expanded scope of pharmacy practice should be a top policy priority, up 32% from 2009.
OPA pointed out that other provinces, as well as the United States, have authorized pharmacists to provide routine vaccines and have seen great success. All 50 U.S. states and British Columbia, Alberta and New Brunswick allow trained pharmacists to administer injections, and the result has been higher vaccination rates, the association said.
Earlier this year, an Ipsos-Reid survey found that 61% of Ontarians would go to their pharmacist for immunizations if they knew pharmacists had the proper training and were authorized by the government to do so.
OPA said CACDS supports its goal to have immunization services in all Ontario pharmacies by the end of next year.
"Community pharmacies support pharmacists, who are highly trained healthcare professionals, to fully utilize their skills in helping Ontarians access quality health care at convenient locations and times," stated Rita Winn, vice chair of CACDS. "By allowing pharmacists to practice to the full scope of their ability, community pharmacy can help relieve pressures within Ontario's health care system and help government deliver effective patient services."
More than 400 pharmacists and industry stakeholders, including Deb Matthews, Ontario's minister of Health and Long-Term Care, are expected to attend OPA's 2012 Conference. The conference program is designed to help pharmacy professionals adapt to changes in Ontario's health care system, notably the expanded scope of practice. Conference sessions will cover nose and throat issues, pain, genitourinary and gastrointestinal tract issues, and dermatological disorders to allow pharmacists to boost their clinical knowledge and enhance patient care.
Ontario pharmacists, too, envision being able to initiate therapy for the prevention of travel-related illnesses and prescribe for certain minor ailments, according to OPA. The group noted that many patients seek advice, assistance and treatment of self-limiting ailments like skin rashes and eye infections.
The Ipsos-Reid poll indicated that 88% of Ontarians would go to a pharmacist to get medications and advice for minor ailments such as dermatitis, psoriasis, cold sores and athlete's foot if they knew that their pharmacist had the right training and authorized by the government to do so.
And OPA pointed out that the chief motivation to go to a pharmacist rather than a clinic or a doctor's office is convenience. Of Ontarians surveyed, 77% said they wouldn't have to make an appointment, 76% said they wouldn't have to wait in a doctor's waiting room, 76% said they could visit a pharmacy on evenings and weekends, and 75% said their pharmacist would communicate his or her activities to the doctor.