September 30, 2020

BY CARSON DESHEVY-RENOUF

When people go to the pharmacy to pick up medication, most would assume that what they came for, is what they’ll leave with. However, in a recent investigation by the CBC television series, Marketplace, that may not always be the case.

According to an article by CBC’s Megan Griffith-Greene that highlighted the findings of Marketplace’s pharmacy investigation, no one really knows how many times Canadian pharmacists have made mistakes. Whether it be the wrong dosage or the wrong medication, Marketplace found that “there is no national tracking system, and little mandatory reporting for pharmacists who make mistakes.”

Marketplace began looking into pharmacies across Canada several months ago. As part of their investigation, “(they) took hidden cameras into 50 pharmacies in nine cities to document whether pharmacists follow important protocols and catch potentially dangerous drug interactions.” What was found, unfortunately, is disheartening.

Each “tester” asked for a drug that did not require a prescription, but was kept behind the counter as pharmacists are supposed to provide warnings and information about them.

“More than half of the pharmacies tested failed to provide any counselling. None provided warnings or flagged possible interactions with other medications,” said Griffith-Greene in her article.

The concept of not receiving either the proper medications, or, in other cases, the proper counsel on medications is serious, terrifying and ultimately preventable. A simple miscalculation or mistake can potentially be fatal.

Many pharmacies are tasked with policing themselves, and in turn are responsible for whether or not any errors are reported. The only place in Canada where it is mandatory for pharmacies to have “error-reporting tools” in place is Nova Scotia.

Canadians should contact their MPPs and demand provincial and national tracking systems be put in place, and that reporting be made mandatory. In addition, offenders should have their licence taken away.

Finally, an educational campaign should be launched making Canadians aware that the drugs they are prescribed may not be the ones that they receive.

Only through these measures can we be sure that the health of Canadians is a priority in this country.

The views herein represent the position of the newspaper, not necessarily the author.

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