Pharmacists Can Help Control Chronic Diseases That Account for 70 Per Cent Of Deaths In Canada

New report outlines how pharmacists can save up to $1.9 billion, managing these conditions is a government priority


Toronto, Ontario September 4, 2013 The increasing prevalence of complex chronic diseases is one of the most important health issues facing Canadians, making prevention and management a key priority for Canadian governments. According to a new report, expanding the role of pharmacists is one solution that will reduce the burden of chronic illness on patients, and save the system an estimated $1.4 to $1.9 billion dollars over three years.

The report entitled, Sustainable Solutions Report: A Focus on Managing Complex Chronic Diseases, is being released by Arthritis Consumer Experts (ACE), the Arthritis Research Centre of Canada (ARC) and Shoppers Drug Mart, and includes new survey data showing support from physicians and Canadians who want pharmacists to play a bigger role in health care delivery.

Complex chronic diseases, like arthritis, hypertension, diabetes, cancer, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, affect 37 per cent of Canadians and are a factor in 70 per cent of deaths. Some risk factors for chronic diseases like age and genetics cant be helped, while others are controllable like diet, exercise, or tobacco use. In 2011, the associated medical costs for individuals with these complex chronic diseases were estimated at $42 billion, or 21 per cent of total health care spending. This figure is expected to rise to $53 billion by 2015. These rising costs are unsustainable and solutions are needed now.

Pharmacists already help in the management of chronic conditions, but they can do so much more, says Domenic Pilla, President and CEO, Shoppers Drug Mart. Governments have identified chronic disease as an immense challenge and they are investing significant dollars in prevention and treatment of these illnesses; using pharmacists more effectively can help achieve the goal of improving care for Canadians, while at the same time actually reducing costs to the health care system.


How Pharmacists Can Make A Difference

The Shoppers Drug Mart Sustainable Solutions Report includes a set of three practical steps governments can take to facilitate pharmacists playing a more substantial role in the management of chronic diseases. These include: 1) enabling pharmacists to develop and manage patient care plans; 2) allowing pharmacists to make prescription renewals and adaptations for specific drug classes; and 3) improving electronic infrastructure and informationsharing between pharmacists and physicians.

Similar measures were outlined in a plan entitled, 9,000 Points of Care: Improving Access to Affordable Healthcare, released by Canadas broader pharmacy community. That plan estimated between $1.4 and $1.9 billion would be saved over three years by expanding the role of pharmacists in managing chronic diseases. It is also estimated that 1.3 million emergency room visits and 500,000 hospitalizations could be avoided, freeing up to 6.3 million hours of physician time.

Our research shows that patients with arthritis stand to benefit significantly by having access to pharmacists that can help manage care plans and provide additional counsel, over and above their doctor, says Dr. John Esdaile, Scientific Director, ARC. Managing chronic illnesses like arthritis can be complicated, so its very helpful for patients to have easy access to health and medication experts like pharmacists.

Enabling pharmacists to develop and manage patient care plans involving lifestyle management tips and one-on-one or group counselling is one instance of how pharmacists can improve the patient experience while also saving physician time and health care dollars.

An example of this type of program is the Shoppers Drug Mart Arthritis Screening that was developed in partnership with ACE and ARC. The screening includes a self-administered joint exam and questionnaire, which can help detect the disease at an early stage. It also helps Canadians with arthritis work with a pharmacist to monitor their symptoms and medication over time to prevent the disease from worsening.

As someone who has lived with rheumatoid arthritis for 24 years, I know that patients today are eager to work more closely with pharmacists as a key member of their arthritis healthcare team, says Cheryl Koehn, arthritis patient and President of ACE. Pharmacists can play an important role in helping detect or confirm arthritis and recommending the appropriate health care provider if more information or treatment is needed. Your pharmacist is also wellinformed about the medication therapies in their store, how to use them, what to monitor, their effectiveness and side effects, and the importance of actually taking them

Currently, medication non-adherence results in 5 per cent of hospital admissions, 5 per cent of physician visits annually, and contributes $4 billion to health care costs each year.


Physicians and Canadians Support Pharmacists’ Expanded Role

As part of the Sustainable Solutions Report, national surveys were conducted of general practitioners and Canadians to determine their views on the role of pharmacists. It found 88 per cent of doctors say they would be open to having more support from other health care professionals to help manage care for their patients with chronic conditions, like arthritis, diabetes, or hypertension.

Almost a third of family physicians (31 per cent) agree an expanded role for pharmacists will result in patients getting improved management of their chronic diseases. And, two in five (40 per cent) say patients will get quicker access to some services. Physicians agree that an expanded role for pharmacists can benefit the health care system as a whole in ways such as increasing patient adherence with medications (63 per cent), reducing hospital re-admissions because of pharmacists conducting drug reviews (50 per cent), and patients getting ongoing lifestyle and disease counselling from pharmacists (39 per cent).

Canadians also want pharmacists to help them better manage their chronic conditions and would make use of their services. The vast majority of Canadians (94 per cent) agree pharmacists can play an important role in helping people with chronic conditions manage their health, and 87 per cent would like pharmacists to help make sure they take their medication as prescribed. Research from the Canadian Association of Chain Drug Stores (CACDS) and the Canadian Pharmacists Association (CPhA) reported similar findings.

For the full Sustainable Solutions Report: A Focus on Managing Complex Chronic Diseases visit,, ACEs, or ARCs


About Shoppers Drug Mart Corporation

Shoppers Drug Mart Corporation is one of the most recognized and trusted names in Canadian retailing. The Company is the licensor of full-service retail drug stores operating under the name Shoppers Drug Mart (Pharmaprix in Québec). With more than 1,244 Shoppers Drug Mart and Pharmaprix stores operating in prime locations in each province and two territories, the Company is one of the most convenient retailers in Canada. The Company also licenses or owns 57 medical clinic pharmacies operating under the name Shoppers Simply Pharmacy (Pharmaprix Simplement Santé in Québec) and six luxury beauty destinations operating as Murale. As well, the Company owns and operates 62 Shoppers Home Health Care stores, making it the largest Canadian retailer of home health care products and services. In addition to its retail store network, the Company owns Shoppers Drug Mart Specialty Health Network Inc., a provider of specialty drug distribution, pharmacy and comprehensive patient support services, and MediSystem Technologies Inc., a provider of pharmaceutical products and services to longterm care facilities.

About Arthritis Consumer Experts

Arthritis Consumer Experts (ACE) provides science-based information, education and support programs to people with arthritis to help them take control of their disease and improve their quality of life. ACE actively advocates on arthritis health issues through ACE’s JointHealth family of programs and the National Arthritis Awareness Program. Please visit, join us on, follow us on Twitter @ACEJointHealth or download our app.

About the Arthritis Research Centre of Canada

The Arthritis Research Centre of Canada (ARC) is an international leader in medical research on Canada’s most debilitating chronic disease. ARC conducts consumer-driven clinical research to help reduce the burden of arthritis, and give people with arthritis better, more timely, and cost-effective solutions for living with their disease. With research centres in British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec, ARC’s research is making a critical difference in arthritis diagnosis, prognosis, prevention, care outcomes and quality of life issues for millions of arthritis patients.

This Shopper’s Drugmart news release was issued September 4th, 2014.