Elected to the Neighbourhood Pharmacies board were Carmen Churcott, chief executive officer of Pharmasave Drugs (National), a new member to the board; Russell Cohen, executive vice president of industry and government affairs at Rexall; Geneviève Fortier, senior vice president of human resources and governmental affairs for McKesson Canada; Eric Muir, senior vice president of health and wellness at Walmart Canada; John Tse, vice president of pharmacy and cosmetics at London Drugs; Rita Winn, general manager and chief operating officer at Lovell Drugs; and Vivek Sood, general manager of Sobeys National Pharmacy Group, who remains the board’s chairman.
The theme of this year’s annual conference, which runs through Thursday, is “Game Changers,” reflecting the rapid change and emerging opportunities today in Canada’s retail pharmacy arena.
“While it’s tempting to say that retail pharmacy is facing more challenges than at any other time, it’s equally accurate and more productive to look at how the opportunities for neighborhood pharmacies are growing,” Neighbourhood Pharmacies president and CEO Denise Carpenter told attendees. “The big headline for our industry today is the evolving business model – an evolution that’s pulling pharmacists out from the dispensary to interact with their patients in new and more valuable ways. This is our ‘game changer’.”
Though dispensing prescriptions remains the economic foundation of the Canadian chain pharmacy business, community pharmacies are extending their value by providing medication expertise and expanding their scope of practice to other health care services, ranging from flu shots to the management of chronic conditions, Carpenter noted.
“This evolution is taking place at different rates and in different ways across the country, and it represents a huge change for the whole neighborhood pharmacies community,” she said.
And pharmacists’ growing health care role is being recognized, Carpenter added, citing the association’s recent consultations with Ontario’s Ministry of Health and Long Term Care and the Ontario Pharmacists Association (OPA).
“For the first time in many years, Neighbourhood Pharmacies was invited to collaborate in discussions on how the province of Ontario would address its financial challenges,” she explained. “To be clear, it was not a negotiation, and the resulting cuts were significant and disappointing. But we were at the table, and we helped shape how, where and when the government’s cost-cutting would be felt. Our member representatives and the staffs of OPA and Neighbourhood Pharmacies helped minimize industry pain and patient impacts, and none of this would have possible without everyone together and aligned on a common purpose. We are now at a formal table, continuing the dialogue to advise on implementation.”