November 20, 2019

When nursing student Elizabeth Murley found out about the self-serve pharmacy on Doon campus, she was happy she wouldn’t have to travel to fill her prescriptions anymore.

She doesn’t drive. And like many other students, she liked the idea of picking up her medicine at the big, blue and white kiosk during the time between classes.

“Conestoga is so far away from everything else. It’s really hard if you need a prescription,” she said in an interview.

So she was disappointed to hear that the pharmacy at both the Doon and Cambridge locations will shut down on Nov. 26, leaving students without a place to pick up prescription medication on campus.

Conestoga Students’ Incorporated (CSI) made the announcement last week.

 “When you’re in pain or you’re sick or you have an illness, that just makes it way more difficult to get what you need to perform well,” Murley said.

The kiosks are disappearing because MedAvail Technologies, the company that stocks and services the pharmacies, is transitioning away from the Canadian market.

Nursing student Elizabeth Murley stands by a SpotRx pharmacy machine on Conestoga College's Doon campus on Nov. 5, 2019.
“With Conestoga so far from everything else, it will be really hard if you need a prescription,” said Elizabeth Murley, a Level One B.Sc nursing student, pictured here on Nov. 5, 2019. (Patrick Spencer / Spoke News)

“Going forward, we will be focussing our pharmacy kiosk rollouts in a number of metropolitan markets in the United States,” a MedAvail spokesperson said in an email to Spoke.

Students can access over-the-counter and prescription medicines 24 hours a day at the kiosks. There is also a video console that can connect them to a pharmacist who can prescribe and dispense medication for a fee.

Once the pharmacies are gone, students will have few options for purchasing even generic drugs on campus.

At Doon, the bookstore and cafeterias carry a small selection, including Advil and Tylenol. However, those locations are only open during daytime hours.

The medical care clinic on Doon campus used to provide generic drugs to patients, but they no longer offer them, an employee at the clinic told Spoke.

“We are going to look at what the next steps can be for students to get prescriptions on campus,” said Scot Wyles, president of CSI.

MedAvail gave CSI 60 days notice of the changes, according to Wyles.

Students were notified on Oct. 31.

Wyles said he was disappointed to see the popular SpotRx pharmacies going after only two years of operation.

“(MedAvail) wanted to be on campus, and we wanted them to be on campus to provide the extra support for students who may not have a car, or may not be able to access their prescriptions,” he said.

During the transition, CSI is offering students who are enrolled in the Extended Health and Dental plan a 10 per cent discount (up to a max of $40) off their prescription drugs if they change to a Rexall pharmacy.

An internet search showed that the closest Rexall from the SpotRx machine on Doon campus is about 10 kilometres away, but there are several other pharmacies close to both campuses.

MedAvail also said they “working to ensure that all prescriptions with refills remaining are transferred to the pharmacy of choice for our patients.”

They did not rule out the possibility that the SpotRx pharmacies will return to Conestoga College in the future, but that will not happen in the “short term.”

As for Murley, she hopes they can get something on campus sooner rather than later.

“There should be something even menially, even just the basics is a good place to start. A lot of universities have a pharmacy on campus,” she said.

@PatrickSpoke

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