Canadian Association of Chain Drug Stores (CACDS)

Canadian Association of Chain Drug Stores (CACDS)

March 04, 2012 11:53 ET

Canadians Turning to Pharmacies for More Health Care

Survey Highlights Pharmacy as a Significant Health-Care Resource

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 4, 2012) - With Pharmacy Awareness Week1 kicking off, a new Nielsen survey commissioned by the Canadian Association of Chain Drug Stores (CACDS) highlights that patients from coast to coast are tapping into the health-care knowledge, expertise and services available at their local pharmacy. In fact, 72% of almost 6,000 respondents indicated that they have talked to their pharmacist about health issues, beyond their prescribed medication.2

"Pharmacists are highly trained health-care professionals whose expertise is still under-utilized by our health-care system in Canada, and indeed around the world. That's all starting to change," explains Nadine Saby, CACDS President and Chief Executive Officer. "Governments recognize the valuable role pharmacy plays in ensuring patients get the right medication and are able to take it correctly. Now, by enabling and providing funding for new services like medication reviews, injections and immunizations, and prescription renewals without a doctor's visit, patients are reaping the benefits in more convenient and timely access to professional health advice and guidance," says Saby.

It's no longer enough for a pharmacy to be a place where medication and advice are dispensed - 96% of respondents surveyed believe that it's important for their pharmacist to play an increased role and work closely with their doctor to optimize care.

What Canadians Are Talking to Pharmacists About

Of the 72% of survey respondents who said that they have talked to a pharmacist about one or more health-care issues other than filling a prescription, the most common subject was the treatment of minor ailments (41%) - like mild burns or insect bites. Advice on vitamins and supplements (26%) and dealing with adverse medication reactions (24%) were also commonly discussed.

Regionally, in Atlantic Canada - where Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick have the nation's lowest per capita ratio of family physicians - patients are the most likely to turn to their pharmacist for advice on minor ailments (47%). Quebec patients lead the way in seeking information on adverse medication reactions (33%).

When it comes to managing diabetes, Canadians say they are taking some advantage of their pharmacy as an authoritative, accessible and convenient source of care. However, given the known burden of diabetes on patients, their families, the health-care system and the Canadian economy overall, it is surprising that only nine percent of respondents reported talking to their pharmacist about managing the disease.

Considerations When Choosing a Pharmacy

What are the most important considerations for Canadians when choosing a pharmacy? Pointing once again to the expectation among consumers that pharmacy should play a more integral part in their health care, the most common consideration for choosing a pharmacy is 'trust in the pharmacy staff's knowledge and advice' (48%). Location (42%) - being conveniently able to access quality care - was the second most common reason cited.

The top five considerations for Canadians choosing a pharmacy are:

  1. Trust in the pharmacy staff's knowledge/advice - 48%
  2. Location (convenience) - 42%
  3. Pharmacist accessibility - 32%
  4. Quick service (i.e. short wait time to fill prescriptions) - 30%
  5. Pharmacy services offered (i.e. medication counselling, blood pressure monitoring) - 17%

Canadians Reporting Effect of Drug Shortages

More than 30% of respondents reported that they have been affected by drug supply shortages, often more than once, during the past year.

On the frontline of this issue, pharmacists for the most part are finding ways to minimize the impact on patients. Among respondents whose households have been affected by drug shortages, 54% say that their pharmacist was able to source their prescribed medication from another outlet at least once, and 35% said that at least once their pharmacist was able to provide them with an alternative drug - which in most provinces requires prescriber consent.

33% of those who had an issue with drug shortages also reported that, at least once, they were not able to fill a prescription or find an alternative therapy.

"Pharmacists are going above and beyond to help manage drug supply issues and minimize their effect on patients. In fact, a study conducted by the Canadian Pharmacists Association in October 2010 estimates that, on average, individual pharmacists are spending 30 minutes per shift dealing with this problem," says pharmacist Sandra Aylward, Chair of the CACDS Board of Directors and Vice President of Professional and Regulatory Affairs with Sobeys Pharmacy Group. "It's both alarming and unfortunate that in spite of all of the work of pharmacists across the country, that the problem of drug shortages is not getting any better and is impacting so many Canadians."

About the CACDS Survey

Results are based on 5,878 Canadian household respondents to a Nielsen PanelViews online survey. The survey was conducted from February 6-26, 2012 using a national sample, balanced by region and demographics using Canadian census data to be statistically representative.


CACDS is the national association representing community pharmacy in Canada. The retail members of CACDS operate almost 6,000 traditional chain and banner drug stores, and grocery and mass merchandisers with pharmacies. Associate members include all categories of product and service suppliers to the pharmacy sector.

CACDS provides its members with a wide range of services, including authoritative research and discussion forums on industry trends, and representation of industry viewpoints to governments - all in the interest of enhancing the value of community pharmacy to consumers. Visit CACDS online at

1 Pharmacy Awareness Week begins on March 4, 2012 and ends on March 10, 2012

2 Respondents were given 15 topics plus 'none of the above' as choices. With 'other' not being provided as an option it is likely that the percentage of Canadians who have sought health-care advice at a pharmacy is greater than 72%

Contact Information

  • For more information or to schedule an interview with a
    CACDS spokesperson to discuss the survey results and
    pharmacy services in Canada, contact: Sara Feldman
    CACDS Director, Communications
    416-226-9100 ext 225

    Adam Sanders
    CACDS Communications Specialist
    416-226-9100 x 222
    Cell: 647-465-7596