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SDM launches innovative arthritis screening effort

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TORONTO — Shoppers Drug Mart (SDM) president and chief executive officer Domenic Pilla and Canadian health minister Rona Ambrose kicked off the drug chain’s arthritis screening program earlier this month with an event at a store here.

SDM says that the program, which will see more than 1,200 of the company’s pharmacists provide arthritis screening and information to consumers, can help patients detect and manage their condition.

The program was developed from research that was carried out at the Arthritis Research Centre of Canada with funding provided from the federal government through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

“Our government supports initiatives that help Canadians better manage their health and improve their quality of life,” Ambrose says. “We are pleased to have funded research that contributed to the development of this innovative new program that will improve the quality of life of Canadians who are living with arthritis.”

An estimated one in six Canadians (nearly 4.6 million people) over the age of 15 live with arthritis. The condition is estimated to cost nearly $33 billion a year in lost productivity, absenteeism and increased health care spending.

Under the program, SDM pharmacists will provide arthritis screening and information to Canadians as part of a three-year partnership between the drug chain, Arthritis Consumer Experts and the Arthritis Research Centre of Canada.

“Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacists are already actively involved in managing complex chronic diseases, like diabetes, heart disease and now arthritis,” Pilla comments. “By becoming increasingly involved in managing complex chronic diseases, pharmacists are helping to ease the burden on the health care system, while also helping to improve patient care.”

SDM says its arthritis screening program is the first and only effort in Canada that is designed with women in mind — the disease affects two out of three, or 2.8 million, Canadian women.

Health officials say that arthritis is the second-most-frequently mentioned condition as a cause of disability among men, but first among women.

To help detect the disease at an early stage, the program includes a self-administered joint exam and questionnaire. It also helps Canadians with arthritis work with a pharmacist to monitor their symptoms and medication over time to prevent the disease from worsening.

Meanwhile, SDM continues to move closer to its previously announced acquisition by Loblaw Cos. Earlier this month, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice issued a final order approving the deal.

In addition, SDM’s shareholders gave their overwhelming approval of the acquisition. At a special shareholders meeting that was held on September 12, nearly 99% of the company’s stockholders voted for the merger.

The two moves mean that the acquisition is likely to be completed by the end of the first quarter of 2014.


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