Saturday, March 3, 2012

Most Ontarians would go to their pharmacist for immunizations, survey shows


Data backs Drummond report recommendations for expanded scope of pharmacy practice

TORONTO, March 2, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - Almost two-thirds of Ontarians (61 per cent) say they would go to their pharmacist for administration of drugs by injection and inhalation, including immunization, if they knew pharmacists had the appropriate training and were authorized by the government to do so, according to findings from a new Ipsos-Reid survey commissioned by the Ontario Pharmacists' Association (OPA).

During Pharmacist Awareness Week, March 4-11, OPA is urging the province to act on recommendations made in the recently-released Drummond Report, including implementing "changes to the Pharmacy Act to enable an expanded scope of pharmacy practice" and "regulations to permit pharmacists to administer routine injections and inhalations, including immunization."

"Permitting pharmacists to administer routine immunizations is an excellent opportunity to improve Ontario's low vaccination rates while increasing vaccine access," said Darryl Moore, chair of OPA. "Pharmacists in other provinces already have this added responsibility, and have stepped up to help public health authorities to administer vaccines for annual influenza protection. We believe this is a key contribution we can also make in Ontario."


Currently, all 50 U.S. states as well as the provinces of British Columbia, Alberta and New Brunswick have authorized trained pharmacists to administer injections, and the result has been increased vaccination rates. In Ontario, hundreds of pharmacists have already completed OPA's Injection and Immunization Certificate Program since its launch last June, in anticipation of the authority to provide these new services.

"By expanding the role of pharmacists and making better use of their expertise, skills and accessibility, we can help improve patient care; take pressure off family physicians, emergency departments and walk in clinics; reduce wait times and hospital stays; and increase the efficiency and effectiveness of Ontario's health care system," said Moore. "The Ontario Pharmacists' Association is committed to working with other health care providers and the government to provide the best possible care in the most cost-effective ways."


Ontarians also support allowing pharmacists to treat minor ailments

In addition to immunizations, almost nine in 10 Ontarians (88 per cent) say they would go to their pharmacist for appropriate medications or advice for minor ailments such as dermatitis, psoriasis, cold sores and athlete's foot, if they knew that their pharmacist had appropriate training and was authorized by the government to do so.

"Pharmacists are already capable of assessing and treating many minor ailments. If they are authorized to do so through an expanded scope of practice, patients would receive the care they need, faster; and physicians would have more time to deal with more serious medical conditions," says Moore. "As health care needs increase and become more complex, these services will become even more critical, especially for patients who don't have a physician, such as those in rural or remote areas where the pharmacist may be the only health care provider they see."


According to the survey data, the biggest motivation driving Ontarians to be "more likely" to go to their pharmacist rather than a walk-in clinic or doctor's office for support on minor ailments is convenience: they wouldn't have to make an appointment (77 per cent); wouldn't have to wait in a doctor's waiting room (76 per cent); could visit a pharmacy on evenings and weekends (76 per cent); and their pharmacist would communicate his or her activities to the doctor (75 per cent).

Pharmacists in Ontario are highly regarded and increasingly recognized as the medication management experts of the health care team. They have an in-depth knowledge of hundreds of medications, and are one of the most accessible health care providers, working closely with other health care professionals, patients, and caregivers to advise on potential side effects, interactions, and any necessary adjustments to medications.

"We urge the government to adopt the recommendations in the Drummond report and allow expanded responsibilities for Ontario's pharmacists," said Moore. "Given the increasing numbers of medications, the aging population and the growing list of pharmaceuticals, pharmacists are key to ensuring safe, cost-effective drug therapy for Ontarians."


About the survey

The survey results were based on an Ipsos-Reid poll conducted between December 20 and 21, 2011, on behalf of the Ontario Pharmacists' Association. For this survey, a sample of 803 adults from Ipsos' online panel was interviewed online. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics and to ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data. A survey with an unweighted probability sample of this size and a 100 per cent response rate would have an estimated margin of error of +/3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

About Ontario Pharmacists' Association

The Ontario Pharmacists' Association is the professional association that represents the views and interests of more than 13,600 pharmacists and pharmacists-in-training across the province. The Association works to inspire excellence in the profession and practice of pharmacy, and to promote wellness for patients. For more information, visit www.opatoday.com.


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