TORONTO — Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacists in Alberta have begun providing in-store flu screenings, which the drug chain calls a first for Canadian pharmacies.
The Canadian drug chain said Monday that patients can go to any of its 147 stores in Alberta and be screened for influenza A or B using a new flu screening tool — the BD Veritor digital immunoassay rapid testing system — available exclusively at Shoppers Drug Mart.
For the test, a Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacist takes a nose swab from the patient, puts the sample on the BD system’s test device and then inserts it into the BD digital reader. The result — positive or negative — is available 10 minutes after the screening is administered.
“This is yet another way Shoppers Drug Mart is helping to relieve the pressures on the health care system by delivering new services to help improve the health of Canadians,” Ashley Davidson, an Edmonton, Alberta-based Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacist-owner, said in a statement. “I’m excited to be among the first pharmacists in Canada to offer this new on-the-spot flu screening tool to our customers and patients.”
The flu screening costs $25. In Alberta, many pharmacists also now have Additional Prescribing Authorization, which enables them to prescribe treatment, depending on the screening results.
“Early detection of influenza is a critical step in appropriately treating the flu, particularly in high-risk populations,” according to Amani Chehade, a Calgary, Alberta-based Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacist-owner. “We are committed to improving the health and well-being of our customers and patients, and on-the-spot flu screening is another tool we can use to achieve that goal.”
Although Shoppers Drug Mart noted that getting a flu shot remains the best way to minimize the risk of catching influenza, the drug chain said that the new tool will boost access for screening and treatment of the flu. Flu cases result in about 12,000 hospitalizations and, on average, 3,500 deaths in Canada each year, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.