Canada's pharmacy community can cut the nation's health care costs by up to to $11 billion (Canadian) over three years by bringing more cost-effective care to more people, according to a new report.

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Action plan sketches bigger role for Rx in Canada

April 17th, 2013

TORONTO – Canada's pharmacy community can cut the nation's health care costs by up to to $11 billion (Canadian) over three years by bringing more cost-effective care to more people, according to a new report.

Called "9000 Points of Care: Improving Access to Affordable Healthcare," the report pre­sents pharmacy initiatives to improve outcomes, deliver greater value and enhance the patient experience.

Developed by the broader pharmacy industry — including community pharmacy, generic drug manufacturers and pharmaceutical distributors —  the report was unveiled in Toronto on Wednesday, with Dominic Pilla, president and chief executive officer of Shoppers Drug Mart Corp.; Frank Scorpiniti, CEO of Rexall Pharma Plus; and Jeff Watson, president of Apotex Corp., highlighting the plan's key points.

The 9000 Points plan — whose name reflects the 9,000-plus community pharmacies across Canada — outlines five initiatives that, based on estimates independently validated by the Conference Board of Canada, could save governments between $8.5 billion and $11 billion over three years.

"The big idea here isn't that there is a report, but that there are tangible actions that can be taken now," Scorpiniti, who also is chairman of the Canadian Association of Chain Drug Stores (CACDS), said in a statement. "These actions will help patients by ensuring they have the care they need, when they need it, where they need it. And by lowering health care costs, and providing greater value within our health system, this plan helps Canada."

Pilla stated, "We have billions of dollars in health care savings that can be achieved through public policy changes alone. Many of these recommendations are among the fastest and least costly improvements we can make to our health system, and we can make many of them now."

The 9000 Points initiative, which is explained on a dedicated website, focuses on the benefits of five key pharmacy actions:
• Expanding pharmacists' scope of practice to treat minor ailments and administer ­vaccines.
• Boosting ­the utilization of generic drugs.
• Managing chronic conditions.
• Leveraging the pharmaceutical distribution model.
• Further preventing adverse drug reactions.

Canada is a world leader in the generic drug industry, noted CACDS president and chief executive officer Denise Carpenter. And from a public policy perspective, encouraging greater use of generic drugs in Canada is "a no-brainer," she added.

Every year, Carpenter said, "we could save the cost of running Ontario's University Health Network and Sunnybrook hospitals combined."

Despite daunting and urgent challenges confronting Canada's health system, the nation's approach to health care is admired around the globe for its quality and equity, the report said. Yet health care accounts for more than 40% of most provincial budgets, and study after study has shown the cost burden worsening.

Canadians age 65 and over represent only 14% of the population, but they account for about 45% of all provincial and territorial government health spending. The number of seniors with multiple prescriptions is rising, with almost two-thirds taking five or more drugs from different classes. And the number of seniors is expected to nearly double by 2036.

"Canada's broader pharmacy community appreciates those challenges and has the knowledge, tools and resources to contribute to sustainable solutions that will help relieve system costs and make Canadians healthier," the 9000 Points report stated.